A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Europe Parliament VP calls for continent-wide burqa ban

European Parliament [official website] Vice President Silvana Koch-Mehrin [official website, in German] expressed her support for a continent-wide ban on the Islamic burqa [JURIST news archive] in an editorial [text, in German] published Saturday in the German daily Bild [media website, in German]. Koch-Mehrin, a member of the Free Democratic Party [party website, in German] representing Germany, described the burqa as a "mobile prison" which "robs [women] of their face and personality." Koch-Mehrin also stated her support for religious and personal freedoms, but not at the expense of "tak[ing] the human face. At least not in Europe." Shortly after Koch-Mehrin's editorial was published, Reinhard Butikofer [official website], a member of the Green Party [party website] in the European Parliament, described her support [Kolner Stadtanzeiger report, in German] for the ban as a tactic to get support from right-wing populists, and that his party would oppose a burqa ban if the issue came before parliament.

The Belgian House of Representatives [official website, in French] on Thursday voted 136-0 to approve [JURIST report] a bill that would ban the burqa and other full face veils in public. The proposed legislation [materials, in French] applies to areas "accessible to the public" or areas meant for "public use or to provide public services." Violators could face a penalty of up to seven days in jail or a fine of 15 to 25 euros. The measure must now go before the Senate [official website, in French]. France, which has Europe's largest Muslim population, has also been pressing for a ban on the burqa. Last month, the French Council of State advised the French government against a complete ban [JURIST report] on full Islamic veils because it risks violating the French Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights [texts]. Also last month, lawmakers in Quebec introduced a bill [Star report] that would ban women from wearing full face veils from public services, which garnered support from members of the Muslim Canadian Congress [official website] who argue that the law would not violate human rights [JURIST comment] and would promote the ideals of a free and democratic society.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.