France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim community.
French police have detained two Muslim women for wearing Islamic veils across their faces after a ban on burqa came into force.
Authorities say the women were not held for their veil but for participating in an unauthorized protest against the ban.
“Today was not about arresting people because of wearing the veil. It was for not having respected the requirement to declare a demonstration,” said police spokesman Alexis Marsan.
French police arrested 59 people on Saturday who turned up for the protest against the veil ban.
Police received a guide on how to implement the ban last week.
Paris has declared that any woman — French or foreigner — who wears a niqab or burqa in public will be fined EUR 150. People who force women to wear such covers will face a much larger fine and a prison sentence of up to two years.
However, France — home to five million Muslims — is believed to have fewer than 2,000 women wearing a full face veil.
Last week, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant referred to the number of Muslims in the country as a problem, during a debate that was opened on the role of Islam in French society.
Leaders of various faiths in France voiced opposition to the debate in a joint statement, saying that it could fuel racial prejudice and stigmatize Muslims.
Critics say the debate is aimed at poaching votes from the far-right National Front (FN) party as President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to rebuild his flagging popularity figures.