European Parliament VP calls for continent-wide burqa ban

[JURIST] European Parliament Vice President Silvana Koch-Mehrin expressed her support for a continent-wide ban on the Islamic burqa in an editorial published Saturday in the German daily Bild. Koch-Mehrin, a member of the Free Democratic Party representing Germany, described the burqa as a “mobile prison” which “robs [women] of their face and personality.” Koch-Mehrin also stated her support for religious and personal freedoms, but not at the expense of “tak[ing] the human face. At least not in Europe.” Shortly after Koch-Mehrin’s editorial was published, Reinhard Butikofer, a member of the Green Party  in the European Parliament, described her support for the ban as a tactic to get support from right-wing populists, and that his party would oppose a burqa ban if the issue came before parliament.

The 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 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. The measure must now go before the Senate. France, which has Europe’s largest Muslim population, has also been pressing for a ban on the burqa.


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