SOFIA: Bulgaria has approved a new legislation that imposes a ban on the niqab in public places.
The country had already banned the Muslim veil and other religious symbols in schools and public buildings but the new bill will apply to all official institutions that provide administrative, educational and social services as well as public places.
The legislation was backed by 108 MPs, while 8 MPs voted against it at its first reading.
Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS), the country’s second largest opposition party, expressed opposition to the bill calling it a result of a ‘political deal’.
The bill already had the support of several parliamentary committees and was being used by some cities on a local scale.
Latvia in a similar move, also plans to ban niqabs and burqas calling it a ‘preventive measure’. Latvia’s Ministry of Justice calls it a step to ensure that newly arriving Muslims adhere to the country’s traditions.
Earlier this year, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for a ban on niqabs in universities. He further said that France should protect the French Muslims from extremist ideology. The statement prompted opposition from within his government.
In May, the Dutch government implemented a partial ban on wearing an Islamic face-covering veil in schools, hospitals and on public transport, with fines of up to £300 for anyone caught flouting the law.
A law banning the full-face veil in neighbouring Belgium came into force in 2011.
Although Spain doesn’t have any nationwide bans in place, in 2010 Barcelona outlawed burqas and niqabs in the city’s municipal buildings.