The Belgian parliament’s approval of a ban on the Islamic Burka and Niquab, which partly or entirely covers a woman’s face and body, has sparked fierce comment.
Although it still has to be ratified by the Senate before becoming law, it passed unanimously with only two abstentions, and , say some, it’s more to do with prejudice than protecting human rights.
“The move is being presented as an act to combat discrimination against women whereas in actual fact it is an act of discrimination in itself. It severely curtails individuals rights of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. It sets a very dangerous precedent for other European countries now.”
It’s been estimated barely 100 women in Belgium use the fully-veiled Niquab, so where is the problem? This woman says it’s more to do with party politics;
“For me, the Burqa doesn’t exist in Belgium, it’s mainly in Afghanistan. Secondly, Belgium and its government is in crisis, and this policy is the expression of hostility towards a minority of Muslim women.”
However the current political vacuum and possible elections mean it will be several months before fines and prison sentences can be handed out to women like these, assuming the Senate will follow parliament’s lead. Until then the debate will continue to rage.