TWO Muslim women wearing Islamic veils were arrested today as France’s burka ban officially came into force.
Cops seized them outside the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris as they protested against the controversial law, which bars all garments that cover the face from being worn on the streets.
Officers fear Islamic extremists will use the new ban to provoke fights — while rich visitors from countries like Saudi Arabia could also cause trouble.
France, which has Europe’s largest Muslim population, is the first country in the world to forbid the wearing of full face veils in public.
But shockingly the protest was made up of only a handful of campaigners and a bigger demonstration about the ban was actually held in LONDON — where a large group of women in black burka’s gathered outside the French embassy.
The mob shouted slogans and waved placards with the words Nicolas Sarkozy Burn in Hellfire and Shariah 4 France.
Muslim hate preacher Abu Izzadeen — who has been jailed for incitement — spoke during the protest.
Under the new French ruling both locals and foreign tourists face fines of around £132 for breaking the ban and can be ordered to attend re-education classes.
Video: Burka ban protest arrests
MUSLIM women detained by cops in France for wearing veils
Those forcing women to wear the niqab or burka, such as husbands, relatives or imams, face a much larger fine of around £26,500 and a year in prison.
The two arrested women were among a dozen campaigners staging open protests in front of Notre Dame.
But police insisted they had been seized for refusing to move on while taking part in an unauthorised demonstration — and NOT for breaking the anti-veil law.
Muslim mother-of-four Kenza Drider openly flouted the ban by walking the streets of the southern town Avignon and boarding a train to Paris with her husband while wearing a niqab.
The voluntary worker, 32, was later seen being marched away from Notre Dame by undercover police officers.
She had earlier said: “It’s not an act of provocation.
“This law infringes my European rights – my freedom to come and go and my religious freedom.”
A Muslim businessman also announced he was auctioning a £1.75million property to pay any fines imposed on veil-wearers.
But French police have already warned the law is impossible to enforce because they cannot use force to remove veils and face resistance in already tense immigrant districts.
Guidelines by Interior Minister Claude Guent warn them not to arrest women “in or around” mosques and to act against vigilantes trying to “de-veil” wearers.
Police union general secretary Patrice Ribeiro said he had instructed officers to treat the law as “low priority” and could not see them arresting veiled women doing their shopping in Muslim districts.
He added: “The law will be very difficult to apply on certain estates.
“It will be the same when a police officer is about to arrest a veiled Saudi who is about to go into Louis Vuitton on the Champs Elysees.
“In all cases, the forces of order will have to be measured and cautious in their behaviour.”
The French government insists full face veils undermine the standards required for living in a shared society and relegate wearers to an inferior status that prevent equality.
But critics claim deeply unpopular President Nicolas Sarkozy is pandering to the far right to score cheap votes as only around 2,000 of France’s five million Muslims wear full face veils.
Osama bin Laden has already issued threats and devout Muslim tourists fear they will also be targeted.
Belgium has already approved a similar law, while far right groups in the Netherlands and Italy also want to follow suit.