Washington: After French police fined a woman for wearing a full-face veil, the United States has endorsed the right of people to "express religious belief through religious attire".

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner supported freedom of religion and expression, but stopped short of criticizing France's ban on wearing full-face coverings, including the niqab.

"I would refer you to the French government for a full explanation of its laws, but we support freedom of religion and expression, and that includes the right to express
religious beliefs through religious attire," he said on Tuesday, stressing that France is a "very close ally" of the United States.

French police fined a woman for wearing a full-face Islamic veil, the first reported enforcement of a ban on the garment on the day it came into effect, a police source said.

The young woman was fined 150 euros (216 dollars) "without incident" on Monday evening in a shopping center in Mureaux, northwest of Paris, the source said.


(Agencies)