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Issues:   Islam in Australia

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Protest ... Women wearing niqabs demonstrate outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague, Netherlands in 2010 as the Belgian parliament voted on whether to ban face coverings worn by Muslim women. Photo: AP Source: AP


Burqa bans already in place in many countries

October 03, 2014 1:44PM


AUSTRALIA is in the grip of another national debate about banning burqas.

Ostensibly a threat to national security, the controversial Muslim garment was the subject of new restrictions written in Parliament House late yesterday that would’ve seen burqa-clad visitors confined to glass-enclosed galleries usually reserved for noisy school children.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promptly scrubbed those rules, but a week of heated debate rages on.

Many have claimed that the whole-body garment - which covers the face with mesh so that the eyes are not visible - represents a security risk, while others have defended the rights of Muslims to wear the burqa on human rights grounds.

But Australia is not the first country to grapple with the issue.

The list of nations where the burqa has been banned includes a number of countries with high, or ever majority, Muslim populations.



The Syrian Government banned the Islamic veil in July 2010.

The crackdown was ordered by the secular government in Damascus amid fears of increasing Islamic extremism among young Muslim students.

But in 2011 Syrian President Bashar Assad relaxed a law to allow teachers to wear the niqab after earlier banning the face-covering Islamic veils from the country’s universities.

About face ... A Muslim woman wearing the niqab in Montreuil, outside Paris, France in 2010 as the French Constitutional Court condemned the full-face Islamic veil (niqab or burqa) in public areas. Source: AFP



France, home to about five million Muslims, was the first European country to ban the public use of veils, both face-covering niqabs and full-body burqas, in 2011.

France made it illegal for anyone to cover their face with anything that obscures their identity — including the burqa, balaclavas and hoods — in a public place.

The French Government claims the laws are not aimed solely at the burqa or veil but that the laws were aimed at “helping everyone to integrate”.

People who wear scarfs, veils and turbans must remove them for security checks.

Then president Nicholas Sarkozy has controversially described Islamic dress as reducing women to “prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity.”

France had already passed a law in 2004 that banned “symbols or clothes through which students conspicuously display their religious affiliation” in educational establishments.



The Belgian government introduced a similar ban in 2011 when it banned the Islamic full-face veil and any clothing that obscured a person’s identity in a public place.

Prior to this, the burqa had already been banned in several districts.

The Belgian government claims Muslim face-covering garments are “incompatible” with the rule of law.

The Belgian government echoes the French Government in saying that the laws are also beneficial for social integration.

Muslim women wearing various type of Islamic veils, a hijab (top L), a niqab (top R) a tchador (bottom L) and a burqa. Photo: AFP. Source: AFP



Last year Turkey’s decades-long restriction on wearing the headscarf in state institutions were relaxed to allow Turkish women who want to wear the hijab - the traditional Islamic headscarf covering the head and hair, but not the face - to civil service jobs and government offices.

The ban was lifted to address concerns that the ban was discouraging women who wear it from eking government jobs or higher education.

The laws were originally established to keep religious symbolism out of the civil service due to Turkey’s attempt to be a modern, secular state.



Back in 1981 Tunisia banned women from wearing Islamic dress, including headscarves, in schools and state offices.

But the ban was largely ignored until 2006 when the government cracked down on those wearing the hijab in an attempt to deter extremism.

Taking a stand ... A pro-Islam rally in Sydney where Muslim women defended their right to wear headscarves such as the hijab and niqab. Source: News Corp Australia



The city of Barcelona is among more than a dozen cities to ban Muslim full-face coverings in some public spaces such as council buildings, markets and libraries since 2010.

But Spain’s Supreme Court threw out the ordinances - which also applied to any headwear, including helmets and balaclavas - that impeded identification in 2013.

A number of smaller towns in Spain have also banned Muslim face-coverings claiming the law was “unconstitutional”.



Covering the face in public has been illegal in Italy since the 1970s due to security concerns.

The law isn’t nationally enforced when it comes to Muslim face coverings but the government regularly debates expanding the decades-old law to impose special penalties on women who wear the burqa, niqab or any other garment that covers the face.

Islamic veils have also been banned in several towns in Italy such as Novara.

A journalist wearing a full-length burka and niqab in the Melbourne CBD in 2006. Photo: News Corp. Source: News Limited



Wearing Muslim veils is not nationally outlawed in Germany but in 2003 the federal constitutional court ruled that state governments could impose such restrictions on school teachers.

As a result half of Germany’s 16 state governments have since banned teachers from wearing Islamic veils and headscarves.

The state of Hesse banned all civil servants from wearing headscarves or veils in 2011.

Reasons cited for the bans range from social integration to road safety.



In 2013 the Stavropol region was the first to impose a ban on Muslim face coverings. The Ticino region also banned face veils in public places.

But in Chechnya, the authorities have defied Russian policy on Islamic dress and order women to headscarves in state buildings.

Muslim women wearing the niqab during a meeting with Imam Ali El Moujahed in Montreuil, outside Paris in 2010. Photo: AFP. Source: AFP



In 2007 The Netherlands prohibited the full veil in schools and on public transport.

The ban has since been extended to universities and specific professions where face-to-face communication and eye contact is required.

Law court staff are also prohibited from wearing Muslim face-coverings on the grounds of ‘state neutrality’.


FROM:  http://www.news.com.au/national/burqa-bans-already-in-place-in-many-countries/story-fncynjr2-1227078762996