04/22/2010, 00.00
FRANCE – ISLAM
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From Paris to Brussels, move to ban the burqa

Sarkozy wants to ban the full-face veil across France. A draft bill is set to reach the French parliament in mid-May. Belgium will soon vote to ban wearing the burqa and niqab in public. AsiaNews proposes again Father Samir’s thoughts on the matter.
Paris (AsiaNews) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that he is favour of banning the burqa from France’s territory. The ban will cover not only public institutions like schools, hospitals and transport, but also public establishments and places like offices, markets, banks, and restaurants.

A draft proposal should be ready for consideration by the French cabinet early May. If it is adopted, it will be submitted to parliament by the middle of the month.

The law would include a total ban on full-face veils or similar articles of clothing. Its supporters expect the new law to survive any constitutional challenges. French Prime Minister François Fillon said that in any event his government is ready to take a risk on the matter. Wearing the burqa would thus be an individual right limited to the private sphere.

The Belgian parliament is currently debating a similar law. If it were passed, it would make Belgium the first European country to ban wearing the burqa and the niqab in public.

Even though the draft bill has been criticised by human rights activists, it was approved by the Home Affairs Committee of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives.

According to the law, violators would be subject to a fine of 15-25 Euros and could be liable to a prison sentence of one to seven days.

AsiaNews has already addressed the burqa issue, thanks to the contribution of Fr Samir Khalil Samir, a Jesuit priest and Islam expert (see his article, “An anti-burqa law to renew Islam in Europe,” in AsiaNews, 8 February 2010).

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