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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Political upheaval to delay burqa law

Original article here.

4:00 AM Saturday May 1, 2010
BELGIUM: Belgium's Lower House of Parliament yesterday banned burqa-type Islamic dress in public, but the measure faces a challenge in the Senate which will delay early enactment of the law.

Christian Democrats and Liberals in the Senate questioned the phrasing of the law, which holds no one can appear in public "with the face fully or partly covered so as to render them no longer recognisable".

Following the fall of Premier Yves Leterme's Government on April 22, Belgium faces early elections that may delay passage of the Belgian anti-burqa ban - Europe's first - by several months. Both Houses of Parliament must approve the bill. Approval in the Lower House was almost unanimous.

Like elsewhere in Europe, Belgium struggles with anxieties that visible signs of Islam erode national identity and that women in traditional conservative Islamic dress, such as the burqa, the chador and the niqab, signal a refusal to assimilate in western society.

- AP
By Robert Wielaard

JD: My feeling about the true nature of this law is a kind of symbolic nod to Western ideals of feminism, freedom and western values, but deep down, this law probably has more to do with easy identification of Islamic welfare recipients in government welfare offices and preventing welfare fraud. I get vibes of Big Brother from the law, it isn't really doing much to combat Islamification and radical Islam.

But overall, it does demonstrate some balls. Time will tell whether this an inroad to restricting Belgium freedoms by their government, or a genuine tactic of challenging the Islamic influence, or even both.

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