Bans on burqas in public places could soon be in force in parts of Europe.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has asked the country’s highest court to draft a law regulating the use of the full Islamic veil.
The move comes days after a parliamentary report described the burqa and the niqab as posing “an unacceptable challenge to French values”.
After six months of hearings a parliamentary commission recommended a ban on the face-covering veil on public transport, in schools, hospitals and government offices.
Italy too is looking at restrictions. Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna is considering four draft bills on burqa bans. She says the Italian government is ready to follow in France’s footsteps insisting the issue is “about defending the dignity and rights of immigrant women”.
Meanwhile, the Danish government has also appointed a commission to examine the use of the burqa.
Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said: “We do not want public officials to wear the burqa or niqab. One should be identifiable when moving around in the community – travelling by bus or when going through passport control. Let’s make sure the rules are enforced.”
But many European Muslims are angered by the moves to outlaw their traditional dress. Critics say wearing the veil is a question of individual choice
One veiled woman who gave her name only as Marianne said: “If this law is passed we will end up being locked up. We would have to stay at home. It will be like a prison for us.”
Although plans for an outright burqa ban in Denmark have been ruled out, Muslim women are obliged to show their faces while using public transport and the penalty for Muslim men who force women to wear the burqa has been increased to four years imprisonment.