Belgian parliament passes veil ban

But, in June last year, a Belgian politician of Turkish origin had joined the Brussels regional parliament wearing an Islamic headscarf in a first for the country.

Belgian parliament passes veil ban

The Belgian lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a bill to ban wearing the veil in public.

The draft law was overwhelmingly backed by 136 lawmakers. Just two abstained.

The ban will be imposed in streets, public gardens and sports grounds or buildings "meant for public use or to provide services" to the public, according to the text of the bill.

The law now goes to the Senate, which is also expected to approve it

Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the vote, saying in a statement that it violated rights to freedom of expression and religion and set a dangerous precedent.

Wearing the facial veil, known as the niqab, and the body-length outer garment, or burqa, widely worn in Afghanistan, could lead to fines of 15-25 euros (about $20 to $33) and imprisonment for up to seven days.

Belgium's French-speaking "liberals" proposed the veil law.

However, the bill's chief promoter, Daniel Bacquelaine, said local mayors could suspend the ban during festivities such as Carnival when people traditionally wear costumes, including masks.

Amnesty International urged Belgium's Senate to seek the view of its Council of State on the legality of the measure.

Isabelle Praille, vice president of the Executive of Belgian Muslims, said the ban risked further stigmatising the Muslim community.

But, in June last year, a Belgian politician of Turkish origin had joined the Brussels regional parliament wearing an Islamic headscarf in a first for the country.

Opponents of such religious symbolism distributed flyers at the entry to the assembly building as Mahinur Ozdemir, 26, was sworn in.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has spoken out in favour of a full ban on the face-covering veil as the government draws up a law to prohibit the garment in public spaces.

Agencies

Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2010, 16:44
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