Belgium eyes Muslim veil ban

Jan. 19, 2004 at 7:41 AM
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Belgium has pending legislation that would follow France's lead in banning Muslim headscarves in schools, the Time of London reported Monday.

Inspired by the controversial French proposal, two Belgian senators have drafted legislation to ban the veil and other overt religious symbols from state schools.

Patrick Dewael, the Belgian Interior Minister, was denounced by members of his government last week for declaring that he supports the ban, not just in schools but in all state institutions, including hospitals and government offices.

In Germany, the headscarves, or hijab is banned in schools in 7 of 16 states. The Bavarian government maintains the ban was necessary because the scarf had become "a symbol of fundamentalism and extremism."

The two Belgian senators, Anne-Marie Lizin and Alain Destexhe, say the ban is needed to combat what they say is Islamic sexism.

Last week, a Belgian court ruled a Muslim woman was allowed to be photographed for her identity card wearing a veil, saying she had the right to appear in the photograph as she usually does in real life.

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