A Belgian parliamentary committee unanimously voted last Wednesday to ban the wearing of face-covering veils in public (1), which could make Belgium the first European country to impose such a religious prohibition, although France already forbids the use of full body garments for public servants, in schools or in certain areas where public safety or security might be an issue, such as train stations, jewelry stores, banks, etc.
Daniel Bacquelaine, a Liberal member of the Belgian parliament, had this to say in proposing the legislation: "Wearing the burqa in public is not compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society."
Photo Credit: Seraphic Secret
Last summer the northern Italian town of Varallo Sesia banned Muslim women from wearing the body-concealing swimming costume known as a burqini. The mayor of the small town, Gianluca Buonanno, noted that the sight of a 'masked woman' could disturb small children, not to mention problems of hygiene.
Kaffir Pat Condell properly ridicules women who wear the burqa in this video:
If the Youtube video disappears, you can download the original here.
"We cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen," said Daniel Bacquelaine, who proposed the bill. "It is necessary that the law forbids the wearing of clothes that totally mask and encloses an individual," he said, adding he was not targeting the classic headscarf worn by many Muslim women.
The parliamentarians are specifically targeting the body-covering burqa and face-veiling niqab, which are still very rare features in Belgian public life. "We have to act as of today to avoid (its) development," Bacquelaine said.
Telegraph, Nicolas Sarkozy: burqa not welcome in France
"The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience," he told members of both parliamentary houses gathered for his speech. He added: "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic."
His comments follow an appeal last week by 65 French MPs for a parliamentary commission to examine whether Muslim women who cover themselves fully in public undermine the secular tradition in France as well as women's rights.
In 2004, the country passed a controversial law forbidding any conspicuous religion symbols from state schools, including veils, which are also banned in government offices.