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 Samuel Potter
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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