Belgium’s lower house of parliament has voted to ban the wearing of the burqa in public.
The Senate’s approval is expected to be a formality, which would make Belgium the first European country to criminalise the full Islamic veil.
The measure was overwhelmingly backed by 136 MPs with just two abstentions.
Now the bill to ban such clothing is likely to become law in June or July.
Religious studies expert, Caroline Sagesser, describes the measure as using a hammer to kill a fly: “The proposal originally came from the centre right Francophone party. But no other party, neither greens nor the left, dared to say we support the burqa.”
For the vice-president of the Executive of Belgian Muslims, Isabelle Praille, the bill is a clear form of violence against citizens because it removes the notion of choice: “Some Taliban say a woman without a burqa is a woman too many. When I hear our politicians here say the same it’s like two kinds of rival extremes against women and we have to condemn it.”
France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, is also looking towards a ban on wearing veils in public, with the government set to examine a draft bill in May.