Belgians pave way for ban on the burka
Published 01/04/2010 | 05:00
BELGIUM is on course to become the first European country to ban the burka after a parliamentary committee backed proposals to make it illegal on the grounds of national security and women's rights.
The unanimous decision by senior home affairs legislators, with the support of Belgium's main political parties, has paved the way for a full parliamentary vote on a ban later this month.
The proposed legislation would ban any clothing or veil that does not allow the wearer to be properly identified, including the full-face niqab and burka that is worn by a small minority of Muslim women.
Anyone who ignores the ban could face a fine of €25 and up to seven days in jail unless they have written police permission.
Denis Ducarme, an MP for the liberal Reformist Movement Party that drafted the ban, predicted that legislation would receive full parliamentary backing. "This is a very strong signal being sent to Islamists," he said. "I am proud that Belgium would be the first country in Europe which dares to legislate on this sensitive matter."
Daniel Bacquelaine, the party leader, said the proposed legislation would liberate Muslim women.
The proposal is likely to face opposition and judicial challenges following Monday's ruling by the French Council of State that a full burka ban in France was "unconstitutional". (© Daily Telegraph, London)