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A pensioner chased a MusIim woman around a shop in France and ripped her niqab from her face claiming they should be banned in the country, a court has heard.|
Jeanne Ruby, 63, a retired English teacher, told police that she "snapped" when she saw the woman from the United Arab Emirates, whose face was covered, in a home furnishings shop in Paris's 15th arrondissement.
The case came a week after France's Constitutional Court gave its seal of approval to a law banning face-covering veils from all public places.
Mrs Ruby, who was not present in court yesterday, told police she had begun by asking Shaika al-Suwaidi, 26, to remove the veil because it was "offensive". "For me, wearing the veil is an act of aggression. I felt attacked as a woman," she said.
Mrs al-Suwaidi allegedly refused to remove the veil and continued shopping. When Mrs Ruby saw she was still wearing the veil a few minutes later, she allegedly "snapped". Rushing at Mrs al-Suwaidi, she tore off her niqab and scratched and slapped her, the court heard.
Mrs al-Suwaidi claimed the pensioner then bit her right hand and cried: "Now I can see your face." In an interview with Le Parisien newspaper before the trial, Mrs Ruby said: "I find it unacceptable that someone should be wearing a niqab in this country of human rights. It's no more than a muzzle and all that's missing is the reins. It's the negation of womanhood. I've taught in Morocco and Saudi Arabia and I have seen how these women walk three paces behind their husbands."
Mrs al-Suwaidi's lawyer said her client had suffered "psychological shock" after the incident. The prosecution called for a two-month suspended sentence against Mrs Ruby for "aggravated voluntary assault" and a euros 750 (pounds 660) fine. The plaintiff's lawyers demanded a total of euros 15,000 in damages. The trial continues.