Belgium Becomes First European Country To Ban Muslim Veils

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.

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  • tonyviner

    Shouldn't it ultimately be left up to the woman whether or not she wears anything? It sounds about right though, if it is not one group trying to force their beliefs and opinions it is another.

    • will275

      If you wanna migrate to our countries u live our way.. If you dont like it no ones stopping you from going back to ur shit holes of countries.. The reason all the muslims are moving to western countries is for a better life so dont expect to get everything your own way.

      • tonyviner

        Exactly how long ago did you close your mind? You sound like you did time in the military. Am I right?

  • Word Eater

    This is so backwards. I thought Europe was a progressive place and America was the oppressive one.

    If you aren't Muslim, can you wear the face-covering veil then?

    Do wedding veils have to be translucent now?

    • will275

      Dont be stupid talkin bout do wedding veils have to be translucent, how many people do u see takin to the streets in wedding atire?

  • Yuga23

    This has hardly anything to do with progressive or conservative.
    I'm from Belgium and let me just remind you of the pratical implications that manifest when someone wears f.e. a niqab or even a burqa. We're not talking about a hijab here, such things are, of course, allowed.
    But when one wears such an outfit, one covers the face, thus remains anonymous for the public and the authorities. It's the same principle as wearing a balaclava. So such things can't be allowed according to our law.

  • alienflea

    It is about time. Who knows, they could be wearing plastic explosives beneath their veil or whatever.

    • oman28

      Are you kidding? Explosives and weapons can be concealed under many types of clothing. Following your fear conditioned logic we should all be running around naked.
      ….Maybe thats not such a bad thing

      • will275

        Tru explosives and weapons can be concealed under many types of clothing but who are the ones doin all the suicide bombings?? DIRTY MUSLIMS!!

        • oman28

          And suicide bombers need to remain anonymous because……?

  • oman28

    Another 'thinly veiled' attack on the muslim religion by the christian right.What do they have to fear from these woman? How many of these woman have comitted crimes from which they wished to remain anonymous? This is blatant oppression.
    It's akin to telling christians that they can no longer wear a cross or telling jews that skullcaps are now illegal.

  • zuppa517

    This has nothing to do with Christians oppressing Muslims, most European countires are secular or atheistic, this has to do with practical aspects of preventing public annominity and (to a lesser explict extent) getting rid of religious fundementalism of all abrahamic religions e.g. Christianity, Islam…

  • 5by5

    Good.

    I think it's interesting that people here tend to see European countries as exactly like the American melting pot, when they aren't. Too many people either don't know, or refuse to acknowledge, is that each of these countries in Europe have their OWN unique culture that they too are trying to preserve.

    Point blank: it's not like a state in the U.S. even with the “European Union”. When you go from one country to another in Europe it's not like traveling state-to-state here where the entire place is one big, gelatinous, yawn-worthy, identical strip mall full of plastic chain stores. The architecture is different in each country, the language is different, the culture is different, the food is different, the music is different, and quite honestly, if they want to preserve their culture in their own country, I don't begrudge them that. Their culture is just as valuable as any other.

    Americans I've found are exactly backasswards about this sort of stuff from where basically every other country is. We expect visitors to speak perfect English, but don't expect citizens to. In Europe it's the reverse. And I think it's a perfectly reasonable expectation that if you wish to become part of another culture and become a citizen in that country, then it is YOU who must adapt, not the larger culture. That's the price you pay to join.

    Moreover, while people's cultural heritage is to be respected, sorry, but not all aspects of other cultures are worthy of being kept. Equal rights for women is BETTER than the misogyny of many older societies.

    Another factor to consider here is that despite many a radical mullah's whining, this really ISN'T about religion. This is about old cultural norms from a particular region. The Koran only commands that women cover their breasts. It says nothing about their heads. And moreover, the preceding passage to the one counseling women cover their boobies, tells men to dress modestly as well. Funny how you don't hear about them getting stoned when they hit the beach in a speedo that shows off way too much of the twigs & berries.

    So I think the politically correct knee-jerk reaction in this case is not only unwarranted, it is dangerous, because it sets women's rights back and discards those hard fought-for rights without a fight, and sorry, I'm just not OK with that.

    Things CHANGE. A prohibition against pork is totally reasonable for a people living in desert heat without refrigeration. But now? We have ice boxes a-plenty. If you want to avoid pork, do it for the right reasons. Not because the invisible Sky God told your ancestors to 6,000 years ago, but because that crap is factory farmed by a scuzzy corporation that pumps the poor animals full of chemistry.

  • Hadrian999

    when a westerner can go to yemen and dress and behave as westerner without any
    interference then maybe this should be repealed, til then whats good for the goose is good for the gander

  • aviewholder

    As night follows day it is inevitable in modern surveillance societies for criminality options, which wearing the veil is, will be outlawed. The protection that individuals have through the ability to identify others must be inalienable above all other considerations and those that do not wish to have their features seen by others have the option to disengage from society where the veil is unlawful or find places to live that share their veil wearing views. It comes down, in the final analysis, to trust – how are you able to make a judgement on the intentions of a shapeless, unidentifiable blob? And what of the fear that children might be subjected to in experiencing this veil?

  • GoodDoktorBad

    Ban also Black Christian priests robes and black nuns habats, and also large cozy hooded bath robes.
    Those people scare me…..hehehe

  • Dominique

    If it is done because of religious bias, then its not right. But i believe its about the face. The face is how we recognize each other as human beings. To have to or want to cover one's face is akin to not want to be seen, seen as who one is, a human being. Society can not work if people are either forced or want to hide from it. If we are to follow that we are all created equal, then we have to show it. We have to be able to look into each others face frankly and honestly. To wisper behind a veil is not it. And to think that equal rights includes the right of selfnegation or, like the Iroqouis called “the freedom to destroy freedom” doesn't either. Somethings are not compatible, such as restrictive mores with the ideals of harmoninous society. Individual rights require social resposability.

  • Anonymous

    And suicide bombers need to remain anonymous because……?