Belgium’s lower house of parliament has voted for a law that would ban women from wearing the full Islamic face veil in public.
The law would ban any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer in places like parks and on the street. No-one voted against it. The law now goes to the Senate, which is also expected to approve it. It would then become law by June or July.
The ban would be the first move of its kind in Europe.
Only around 30 women wear this kind of veil in Belgium, out of a Muslim population of around half a million. The BBC’s Dominic Hughes in Brussels says MPs backed the legislation on the grounds of security, to allow police to identify people. Other MPs said that the full face veil was a symbol of the oppression of women, our correspondent says. The ban would be imposed in all buildings or grounds that are “meant for public use or to provide services”, including streets, parks and sports grounds. Exceptions could be made for certain festivals.
Those who break the law could face a fine of 15-25 euros (£13-£27) or a seven-day jail sentence.
The Muslim Executive of Belgium has criticised the move, saying it would lead to women who do wear the full veil to be trapped in their homes.
If the Muslim Executive of Belgium hadn’t made the point, I would have. Muslim women who are comfortable moving in public in full veil (or women who are only permitted to move in public in full veil) are never going to assimilate if a.) the Belgian government acts in a way they can only interperet as hostile to their deeply held convictions, and b.) if they can’t acutally leave the house anymore.
Quebec’s legislature is considering a similar bill. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t get this far there, and it doesn’t go any further in Belgium.
About the link: I understand civic secularism to be governmental neutrality on religious or metaphysical questions, which entails not forbidding any religious practice which directly harms no persons, animals, or property.
(And, also, unrelated to the issue at hand, I think secularism also necessitates a positivist paradigm for all legal and legislative language. Insofar as the Constitution makes no metaphysical claims about the authority of the American government to enforce its laws, it is reconcilable with secularism. However, if it claimed the rights of citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property were founded on rights bestowed by a Creator, then I would wish to see it amended.)
About the headline: Read this.