BBC News reports on Belgium’s banning of face-covering Islamic veils for women, making the nation the first in Europe to do so. Similar laws may be on the way in other places:
A Belgian parliamentary committee has voted to ban face-covering Islamic veils from being worn in public. France is also considering restricting face-covering veils.
There are several types of headscarves and veils for Muslim women – those that cover the face being the niqab and the burka. The BBC’s Dominic Hughes reports from Brussels that there are about 500,000 Muslims in Belgium, and the Belgian Muslim Council says only a couple of dozen wear full-face veils.
Denis Ducarme, from the Belgian centre-right Reformist Movement that proposed the bill, said he was “proud that Belgium would be the first country in Europe which dares to legislate on this sensitive matter.”
But the proposal has alarmed some who see it as an attack on civil liberties. Isabelle Praile, the vice-president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium, said any law could set a dangerous precedent.
“Today it’s the full-face veil, tomorrow the veil, the day after it will be Sikh turbans and then perhaps it will be mini-skirts,” she was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.