Belgium to ban the burqa soon
Brussels - Belgium will soon become the second country in Europe to ban the burqa in public places, after the parliament approved legislation forbidding full veils, the bill's author said on Wednesday.
The legislation quietly cleared the Senate last week after it was overwhelmingly approved by the lower chamber of deputies last month, when only one Green lawmaker voted against it and two abstained.
The new law will take effect 10 days after it is published in Belgium's official journal, in around one month. France became the first European country to ban the burqa on April 11.
The Belgian legislation, drafted by liberal lawmaker Daniel Bacquelaine, bans all clothing that hides the face.
"It is a law that takes into account a fundamental principle, the equality between men and women," Bacquelaine told AFP.
"Moreover, if we want an open society, the visibility of the face is essential. Humanity comes from one's face," he said.
Lawmakers first voted for the legislation in April 2010, but it was shelved after the government fell following legislative elections two months later.
Only a few hundred women in Belgium are believed to wear the burqa, a full body veil, or the niqab, which hides the face.