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Banning the veil: Where Europe stands

Banning the veil: Where Europe stands

A British minister has ruled out the possibility of a ban on face veils in the UK, while it looks increasingly inevitable in Belgium. Kipp provides a European overview.

July 18, 2010 3:51 by

Amid the debate surrounding the controversial French decision, news agency Reuters provided an overview of Europe’s attitude to the veil.

Belgium: As in France, the Belgian lower house voted overwhelmingly to make it an offence to wear a full Islamic face veil. The vote took place in April, but its expected approval by the upper house has been delayed by post-election coalition talks. The law envisages fines of 15-25 euros and imprisonment of up to seven days.

Germany: The interior minister has rejected calls to ban full veils, but policy is a matter for the 16 regional states, says Reuters. Seven states have banned state school teachers from wearing Islamic headscarves.

Italy: Again, no national legislation has been passed, but some towns have attempted to ban burqas using local rules. However, Reuters says that a 1975 law does stipulate fines and up to two years in jail for people who cover their face with anything that prevents their identification by police.

Netherlands: The Dutch government has decided against a full ban, on the grounds that it would violate principles of freedom of religion. It is, however, considering a ban on veils in schools and government offices.

Spain: Barcelona became the first big city in the country to forbid full face veils in public buildings such as markets and libraries last month, says Reuters. The mayor resisted calls for an outright ban on the grounds it was outside the municipality’s jurisdiction.

Switzerland: Once again, federal leaders are largely opposed to a ban, says Reuters, but leaders in regional districts have started to impose bans.

Turkey: Bans are in place on Islamic headdresses in universities and public offices, but are a matter of fierce debate in the mostly Muslim but constitutionally secular country.

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  1. Basel A-Shaban on July 19, 2010 4:30 am

    If you ask most Europeans they will tell you that Europe is a secular community of nations. Whoever thinks that Europe is for Christians I ask him to go back and review the constitutions of those nations that he claims that they are Christians or founded based on Christianity. Whether Niqab is religiously demanded by Islam or not, all those Muslim Europeans (yes, your country men and women) enjoys the same freedom as the rest of European citizen regardless of religion, ethnic back ground, color or creed. Do not you, or anyone else for that matter, go shoving ideology down their throats just because Europe do not want to see that the extreme minority of Muslim women wearing Niqab. If you look at images of the Virgin Mary, you will see that all her pictures and status shows that she is wearing a head cover similar to an extent to the Muslim Hijab, who said that Hijab or Burqa is only for Muslims. We all can recall pictures from Europe 15th century where aristocrats wealthy women going out in public not only with there head covered but also with half of their face too (as the Muslim Niqabies do today) Obviously, many readers have not been to villages in Italy or France where older women walk down the street in public with their head covered. It is called MODESTY. Muslim women chose to wear Niqab, this is a religious personal choice protected by the constitution and the civil liberties of their respected European countries. The same laws that protect your civil rights also protect theirs. Some people chose to go in public half naked, some people chose to be modest, who said the half naked group has more rights to dress as they please than the modest one. It is a shame when modesty is considered oppression yet being half naked is considered acceptable and modern. We really need to examine our ethics and priorities. What’s next, you’re going to ask for Nuns not to cover their heads. What about Sikh or men wearing their traditional Arabic head gear??

  2. Robert on July 19, 2010 6:32 am

    I believe France have the right idea. hmmm… what are we told here in dubai? If you don’t like our culture and laws move back to your own country.

  3. dana on July 19, 2010 9:06 am

    i totalllly AGREEE with you robert – no offense Bassel…a country is FREE to chose its own laws and regulations wether the people like it or not…thats the case with Dubai , these are our rules, our culture, you like it stick to them, you dont, go back to your own country!

  4. Andrew on July 19, 2010 9:46 am

    I’ve no problems with people voluntarily covering up in personal/private situations by choice. What I object to is people doing it in situations where it impacts on their ability to do their jobs, makes it impossible to identify the person, or simply in situations where it would be considered rude to those societies.

    e.g. the teacher who complained when she was asked to remove her veil as her own students couldn’t hear her. Had she been a languages teacher not seeing her lips would’ve made it even worse.

    Basel; as for older generations of women covering themselves wearing a scarf around the head without covering the face has little to do with modesty and more about protecting the face from the elements, whether rain or shine.

    That said I do think telling people they cannot do something when it impacts no other person would indeed be very “un-British”, the problem however is very few people truly appreciate the sensibilities of other cultures even after prolonged exposure, and unwillingly offending someone is all too easy to do.

  5. Basel A-Shaban on July 19, 2010 11:48 pm

    Just for your info Robert, the people you are referring to to go back to their own country are not tourists or expats like you and I, they are second, third, and fourth generation French citizens. How would you like someone to tell you while you are sitting in your own home in your own country to go back to where you came from. Your logic doesn’t compute. In Dubai, you are referring to rules of conduct published by Dubai government legislative body and made available to all those coming to visit and reside in the UAE. It also states the penalty for violating those codes. Dubai never claimed freedom or liberty. However the French constitution protects the rights of French citizens including the freedom of practicing their own religion. For those who posted a comment about modesty and the older women of Europe covering their heads due to the weather elements, go back and check the bible, 2 Corinthians. Covering the head is demanded in the Bible however, it is not practiced. Just because you do not do it does not make right. We can’t just pick and chose what we feel good about in our Constitution and apply it and ignore the rights of the minority in the same constitution.

  6. Andrew on July 20, 2010 8:26 am

    You’re right Basel, it’s not practiced – what is practised is the time honoured tradition of protecting oneself from the weather. Thank you for making my point for me.

    I’ve absolutely no idea what you’re on about when you say “just because you do not do it, does not make it right” as it doesn’t seem to be in reference to anything.

    If you’d taken the time to absorb what I’d said above I made it clear that in situations where it impacts no one, I entirely agree with freedoms of religion. However all nations that encourage freedom, either through constitutions like the USA or France, or through convention like the UK, draw the line at those freedoms impinging on others.

  7. charles on July 20, 2010 6:19 pm

    oh dear Basel, what strange analogies you try and draw. How do you explain Syria’s recent decision then? It is not only Europe.

  8. Miss Anne Thropic on July 24, 2010 9:19 am

    Yes, funny how people are quick to condemn France, Belgium and Italy over niqab bans but are strangely silent on Syria. Personally, I think banning niqabs is a great idea no matter what country it is.


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