Belgium is one of several European countries attempting to enact laws banning full-face covering. Government officials say people should be identifiable when in public, meanwhile human rights activists feel a ban is a violation of rights.
“Belgium could be the first European country to ban the burqa in the street. Parliament is to debate prohibiting the wearing of any clothes or veils that don’t allow citizens to be fully identified.” (France 24)
The Belgian Parliament voted unanimously to pass the bill, and it’s ‘very likely’ to become law.
In January Newsy reported that France was nearing a ban on burqas- but now several other European countries are following France’s lead and making swift moves to enact bans.
France 24 reports on what others besides France and Belgium are doing to limit face covering: “In the Netherlands several bills are in preparation to prohibit wearing burqas in education and public services. Meanwhile in Denmark the government expressed its intention to limit the wearing of burqas in public in January. … Italy is perhaps the most repressive European country with regards to the country.
The bans are extremely controversial, as supporters of the legislation say people should be identifiable in public. But The Daily Mail explains some ban’s pitfalls: “Making the full veil illegal could be viewed as discriminatory and tricky to put into practice, in particular as the majority of women who wear it do so of their own free will.’ … [And] even a limited ban would be difficult to enforce.”
And in the Times Online a Muslim representative in Belgium believes the ban could open some dangerous floodgates: “Today it is the full-face veil, tomorrow the veil, the day after it will be the Sikh (Seek) turbans and then perhaps it will be mini skirts.”
The proposed law says a fine for wearing a burqa in public would be 15 to 25 euros (20-33 American Dollars) and a prison sentence of one to seven days – with the judge deciding between fine or prison.
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