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    Belgian parliament bans full Islamic veils

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    Belgium is set to become Europe's first country to ban women from covering their face in public as the lower chamber of parliament approved the bill.

    Belgium is set to become Europe's first country to ban women from covering their face in public as the lower chamber of parliament approved the bill, Al-Jazeera said on Friday.

    A total of 134 lawmakers voted in favor of the ban, with two abstentions. No lawmakers voted against.

    Under the new law, women are prohibited from wearing full-face Islamic garments, such as burqa or niqab in streets, parks, sports grounds and buildings "meant for public use or to provide services."

    The offender will face a fine of 15-25 euro ($28-$47) and possibly a prison term of up to seven days.

    The ban was imposed on the grounds that the wearer of the veil is not fully identifiable and therefore could be a threat to public security. Supporters of the law believe that the new law will be of use in the fight against terrorism and also give more rights to Muslim women.

    Daniel Bacquelaine, who heads the liberal MR party in the parliament, said the law was "not about introducing any form of discrimination," except for cases when such clothing was "aimed at stopping people from being identified."

    The ban is nothing new in the country, where municipal authorities in several cities have already introduced a similar ban on the local level.

    Numerous European Union countries are likely to follow suit.

    Last week French President Nicholas Sarkozy submitted a similar bill to the country's parliament. Under the law, immigrants who fail to follow the law, might be denied their citizenship. Austria is also considering a nationwide prohibition.

    A veil ban has been introduced in some municipalities in The Netherlands and Italy.

     

    MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti)

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