Belgian City bans wearing headscarves

Belgium's third largest city Ghent has banned its employees from wearing Muslim headscarves.

Belgian City bans wearing headscarves

All city personnel will not be allowed to wear such garments or symbols if they come into contact with the public, a city spokesman said.

The measures are controversial. Supporters say they help Muslim immigrant women better integrate in their host countries, while opponents say they are discriminatory.

The council voted 26 to 23 yesterday for the ban, with the Liberals, Christian Democrats and far-right Vlaams Belang in favour and the socialists and Greens against.

"It is really not clear who counts as an employee in contact with the public, but we will have to carry it out," said the spokesman.

The city has 4700 employees and is aware of two women wearing headscarves who work on counters dealing with the public. It was possible they might be offered work elsewhere, the spokesman said.

The ban would not affect teachers and police officers.

Ghent follows Belgium's second city Antwerp, which banned its workers from wearing headscarves and religious wear earlier this year.

Antwerp has since said Muslim women in nurseries would be allowed to cover their heads with bandanas instead.

Belgian Muslims are estimated at 450,000 – out of a 10-million-population – about half of them are from Moroccan origin, while 120,000 are from Turkish origin.

Herald Sun

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Kasım 2007, 15:46