Belgium May Be First European Country To Ban Burkas

Following in France’s attempted footsteps, Belgium is on its way to becoming the first country in Europe to ban the burka.

The Daily Mail reports:

A parliamentary committee agreed yesterday to outlaw the wearing of face-covering veils in public. The full Parliament will vote later this month.

Under the proposals, women could face a week in prison or a fine for wearing a veil in public.

Last year, France set into motion efforts to ban the burka — which French President Nicolas Sarkozy called “contrary to the dignity of women.” Those efforts hit a wall on Monday, when the Council of State — France’s top administrative court — ruled that they could not legally outlaw the Islamic veils without stomping all over their citizens’ constitutional rights.

It seems like Belgium might avoid this pitfall by framing their law around anything that covers “all or most of the face” — not burkas specifically.

Daniel Bacquelaine, the man behind the bill, estimates that only a few hundred women in Belgium wear a burka, and is quick to point out that the law could be used to prevent protestors from covering their faces and other such, erm, dangerous acts.

While I’m no fan of burkas, to ban something that some women most certainly wear freely seems like a serious encroachment on civil and, specifically, religious rights. Then again, I’m not a muslim woman — but I have the sneaking suspicion that neither are the politicians voting on this law in the first place.

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