Belgian burqa ban plan unveiled

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Belgium is set to follow France in banning the face-covering Islamic veil. The lower house voted overwhelmingly on Thursday in favour of making the Muslim burqa and niqab illegal in public.

After Thursday’s parliamentary approval, the senate still has several weeks to decide whether to put the bill up for further discussion and another possible vote. Last year, MPs also voted in favour of a ban but the legislation didn’t go ahead due to the collapse of the coalition government.

The bill - approved by an overwhelming majority of 136 to one – does not name the burqa or niqab but refers to a ban on wearing “clothing that completely or largely covers the face”. Defying the law can lead to a fine or seven days in prison. Unlike France, no charges will be brought against anyone who forces a woman to wear a burqa.

(jn)

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