Panel in Belgium approves burqa ban

April 1, 2010 at 11:06 AM
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BRUSSELS, April 1 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Belgium say their country is on the road to becoming the first European nation to ban the full-body veils worn by Muslim women.

A key panel of the Belgium Federal Parliament unanimously voted in favor of a proposal to ban both the burqa and the niqab, two forms of the veil that cover the entire body and face, the EU Observer reported Thursday.

If parliament approves the ban, women who wear the coverings could be fined and jailed for up to seven days.

Corinne De Permentier, speaker of the lower chamber, says a ban would liberate women from a burden and increase security.

Another lawmaker told the Observer that banning full body veils would "send a strong signal to Islamists."

Several districts in Belgium have already banned the burqa in public places.

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