Belgium lower house approves burqa ban

[JURIST] The Belgian House of Representatives on Thursday voted 136-0 to approve a bill that would ban the Islamic burqa and other full face veils in public. The proposed legislation applies to areas “accessible to the public” or areas meant for “public use or to provide public services.” Violators could face a penalty of up to seven days in jail or a fine of 15 to 25 euros. Proponents argue that the legislation is necessary both as a security measure and to prevent women from being forced to wear the garments. Opponents have said that the bill restricts freedom of expression. The measure must now go before the Senate. If approved, Belgium would become the first European nation to impose a nationwide restriction on traditional face-covering veils.

France, which has Europe’s largest Muslim population, has also been pressing for a ban on the burqa. Last week, a spokesperson for French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the president is in favor of a complete public ban on the burqa and other full face veils and will be submitting a bill to parliament in May. France already has a partial ban that prevents public officials from wearing veils while operating in their official capacity and also prohibits veils in public schools. Also last month, lawmakers in Quebec introduced a bill that would ban women from wearing full face veils from public services, which garnered support from members of the Muslim Canadian Congress who argue that the law would not violate human rights and would promote the ideals of a free and democratic society.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Belgian House of Representatives on Thursday voted 136-0 to approve a bill that would ban the burqa and other full face veils in public. The proposed legislation […]

  2. […] last Saturday the group commented on the decision of the Belgian House of Representatives to ban the burqa. “If you take away our sisters’ burqua’s, then you walk a path that will lead to […]

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