Belgian lawmakers vote to ban full Islamic veil in public

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The lower house of the Belgian parliament voted to ban the wearing of the full Islamic veil such as the burqa in public, paving the way for Belgium to become the first country in Europe to apply such a ban.

AFP – Belgian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to ban the wearing of the Islamic burqa in public, paving the way for the first such crackdown in Europe.

In the lower house of the federal parliament, 136 MPs voted to nationally ban clothing or veils that do not fully identify the wearer, including the full niqab and burqa.

There were two abstentions. No one voted against it.

The upper house of parliament has two weeks to raise objections to the decision.

The ban will be imposed on streets, public gardens and sports grounds or buildings “intended for public use or to provide services” to the public, according to the text of the bill.

Exceptions could be allowed for certain festivities such as carnivals if the municipal authorities decide to grant them.

People who ignore the new law face a fine of 15 to 25 euros ($ 20-34) and / or jail time of up to seven days, unless they have the right to do so. police authorization to wear the clothes.

All the ruling parties and the opposition have agreed on the move – most on the basis that people cannot be recognized wearing the clothes.

“This is not to introduce any form of discrimination,” Daniel Bacquelaine, leader of the liberal MR party in the House, told lawmakers, but for cases where such clothing “was intended to prevent people from being identified “.

The ban comes amid controversy in the kingdom over the wearing of Muslim religious symbols in public places.

In June last year, a Belgian lawmaker of Turkish origin took the oath of office in the Brussels regional parliament wearing an Islamic headscarf, a first for the country.

At the time, opponents of the veil distributed leaflets at the entrance to the assembly building, but they did not disrupt the debate as Mahinur Ozdemir, 26, was sworn in triumphantly to applause and flashes. camera.

Controversy also raged elsewhere in Europe over the wearing of Muslim veils and other religious clothing in state or public institutions.


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