A French court has penalised two Muslim women for breaching a new law banning face veils.

Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait Ali were arrested wearing the niqab in public outside Meaux town hall, eastern Paris, soon after the law came in in May.

The women, who were the first of 91 women to be fined by police over the ban, say they are prepared to take their fight to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

But they would first have to exhaust the appeals process in France.

Thursday's sentencing in Meaux has captured the attention of people across Europe.

Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland all have – or are planning – similar legislation.

Ahmas, 32, who is a divorced mother of three, was fined 120 euros (£104).

Before the hearing she said she was hoping a fine would be imposed, to enable her to challenge it.

"Without a condemnation I can't move forward. There has to be this sanction with a fine so that I can take this to the European Court of Human Rights. It's imperative that there's a sanction," she said.

Nait Ali was fined 80 euros (£69).

They were the first of 91 women stopped by French police to be handed a fine.

Ahmas's told the BBC she put on the niqab for the first time six years ago as an educated single woman.

She claims she once wore mini-skirts and liked to party before she rediscovered her faith.

Some Muslim groups say the ban, introduced in April, had led to a number of women being assaulted both verbally and physically by members of the public.

Meanwhile, high-profile niqab-wearer, Kenza Drider, has said she will stand for president in the 2012 election.

She has become a champion for several hundred women in France who insist wearing the niqab is a personal choice and a right enshrined by European law.

She said: "The reality is, there is a lot of unemployment in France and a lot of problems in France so let's not focus on what I wear, let's deal with the real problems. So my candidacy is really being done for that. To say don't stop at what I'm wearing, but go much deeper."