Belgium veil ban passes with widespread support
Legislators in Belgium's lower house voted almost unanimously today to ban Muslim women from wearing veils that cover their entire face. Muslims and human rights groups say the veil ban is an attack on religious freedom.
(Page 2 of 2)
In Pictures Behind the veil
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
$20 to $35 fine in Belgium
In Belgium, those who violate the new law could be fined $20 to $35 or imprisoned for up to seven days, reports Al Jazeera. If Muslim women receive police permission, they may be granted an exception to wear the full face covering during certain religious festivities. Those in support of the bill said it was not a move against Islam, but rather for public safety.
“It’s not about introducing any form of discrimination,” said Daniel Bacquelaine in an article by Al Jazeera. He explained that the law was designed to stop people from wearing certain types of clothing that was “aimed at stopping people from being identified.”
Amnesty International decries the law
Despite such claims, the international human rights advocacy organization Amnesty International has sharply criticized the new law, saying it would “violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion,” reports Press TV.
“The obligation to combat discrimination cannot be fulfilled by imposing a measure that is itself discriminatory,” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe said in an article by the Iranian news agency.
“I believe the way Islam has been defined in certain contexts has oppressed women, and I disagree with anyone ever being forced to veil. But it isn’t the religious basis for covering up that matters most, it’s a woman’s right to choose whether to cover up because of religion,” she writes.
IN PICTURES: Behind the veil