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Belgium officially bans burqa

Belgium's interim cabinet announced via the Belgian Official Journal [official website, in French and Dutch] Thursday that the nation will be officially banning the burqa [EurActiv report]. The Belgian House of Representatives [official website, in French] voted 136-0 to approve the law in April 2010 [JURIST report] and the Senate [official website, in French] approved it in May [DPA report] of that year, but the law's implementation was delayed by Belgium's political crisis. Violators of the new law will be fined € 137.50 and could receive a week in jail. The law is set to go into effect on July 23.

A French Muslim couple living in the UK filed a challenge [JURIST report] last month in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] over the French ban [materials, in French] on full face coverings. Also in June, a Spanish court upheld a city ban on veils in municipal buildings for identification and security purposes. Under the French ban, people caught wearing facial coverings in public can be fined € 150 (USD $215) and/or ordered to take a citizenship class. In addition, anyone convicted of forcing a someone else to cover their face may be fined up to 30,000 euro and jailed for one year [AFP report, in French], and the penalties double if the incident involves a minor. The ban affects citizens, residents and tourists alike, and extends to all public places [Le Figaro backgrounder, in French], including airports, hospitals, government offices and even places of worship that are open to the public. In October, the French Constitutional Council ruled that the ban conforms with the Constitution [JURIST report]. Also in October, Dutch politician Geert Wilders [personal website, in Dutch] said that the Netherlands will ban the burqa [JURIST report] as part of the government's plan to form a minority coalition. In August, Austria's conservative Freedom Party [official website, in German] called for a special vote [JURIST report] on whether to ban face veils and the construction of minarets, two of the most visible symbols of the Islamic faith. In July, Spain's lower house of parliament rejected a proposal [JURIST report] to ban the burqa and other full face veils by a vote of 183 to 162 with two abstaining.

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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.

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