News / Europe

Belgium Moves Closer to Banning Face-Covering Veils

Belgian lawmakers are expected to start debate over legislation to ban the face-covering Islamic veil in public spaces on Thursday, a day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered similar legislation in France.

Belgium may become the first European country to ban the face covering Islamic veil.  In March, a parliamentary committee backed a draft law to ban the veil.  Now Belgium's full lower house takes up the bill, which has the support of all the country's major parties.

There are very few Muslim women in Belgium who wear the full face veil.  But the bill's main author, lawmaker Daniel Bacquelaine of the liberal Reformist Movement Party, says the legislation is critical for social integration.

"We think that this measure is essential to promote living together in our society.  I think we need common values and human rights.  And I think if we live together, we have to be recognized.  It is not possible to encounter each other if I cannot see the other's face," he said.

Bacquelaine says banning the veil is also a security measure against potential Muslim radicals.  He says it is not intended to stigmatize the Muslim community, but to promote women's rights.

Belgium is hardly the only European country mulling a veil ban.  On Wednesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered legislation banning the face veil in public spaces, despite misgivings it may be unconstitutional.

Presidential spokesman Luc Chatel said the ban should be generalized for all public spaces, but should not stigmatize Muslims.  The legislation has drawn support from some Muslim lawmakers and women's rights groups.  Other European countries have considered similar legislation, but have not gone so far.

Wearing the full face-veil is deeply controversial in Europe, not least among Muslims.  But immigration expert Marco Martiniello of the University of Liege in Belgium, says many Belgian Muslims are united in opposing a veil ban.

"Even in that part of the Muslim community in which there is no support for niqab and burqa, the reaction is quite negative toward that law because it is seen as an additional stigmatization," he said.

Martiniello believes the legislation is unnecessary.  He says it reflects Europe's inability to deal with its booming, Muslim community.

"Each European country seems to have a problem in finding the right balance between allowing space to Muslims and Islam and avoiding opening a new (door) to radicals," said Martinello.

If Belgium's parliament passes the ban measure, it may become law within months.  Meanwhile the French government is pushing for its own veil ban legislation to become law by the end of July.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid