Belgium became Europe’s first country to vote for a ban on the full Islamic veil or burqa, sparking dismay today among Muslims and warnings of a dangerous precedent with France set to follow suit.
The bill, which also drew fire from human rights group Amnesty International, will not enter force for weeks and may have to be re-examined if early elections are called as Belgium battles a political crisis.
“We’re the first country to spring the locks that have made a good number of women slaves, and we hope to be followed by France, Switzerland, Italy, and the Netherlands; countries that think,” said Liberal Deputy Denis Ducarme.
In the lower house of the federal parliament yesterday, 136 deputies supported a nationwide ban on clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified, including the full-face niqab and burqa.
Read more from the AFP on news.com.au
Over in France:
France will jail and impose huge fines on anyone who forces a woman to wear a full-face veil, according to a leaked version of a proposed law revealed.
While women will face only a 150 euro penalty if they choose to don a burqa or a niqab, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to slap one-year prison terms and 15,000-euro (20,000-dollar) fines on those who make others wear them.
Read more on Khaleej Times.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., Nick DiVito reports:
A federal judge in Detroit on Thursday tossed a lawsuit (pdf) against a Wayne County Circuit Court judge accused of trampling a Muslim woman’s religious freedoms by ordering her to take off her hijab, or headscarf, in his courtroom.
U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani cited court transcripts that she said shows that Raneen Albaghdady never protested to Judge William Callahan’s request to remove her headcover last summer in his courtroom, and that she quickly complied.
Read more in Courthouse News.