Experts: European Muslims do not resist nigab ban in Belgium

Experts: European Muslims do not resist nigab ban in Belgium

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 22 / Trend E.Ostapenko /

Experts believe the ban on burqas and nigabs in Belgium is likely to be approved by parliament and enter into force as law. However, European Muslims are not expected to resist the initiative.

"I do not see any massive opposition to this idea not even among Belgian Muslims. European Muslims think of this issue as at unfortunate distraction and for them it is not something to fight for," European Policy Center in Brussels expert Shada Islam told Trend.

The bill to ban female Muslim clothing completely covering the face will be discussed in the Belgium parliament today. Two weeks earlier, the Belgian Parliamentary Domestic Policy Committee held an anonymous vote on the issue that has received full approval.

A draft law provides a fine of 15-20 euro ($20-$34) for wearing a burqa or a nigab in public places and streets. Violators may also be arrested for seven days

Neither the nigab nor the burqa are Muslim values, Islam said. The majority of Muslims do not consider this as something that is essential for Islam.

The burqa (or paranja), worn mainly in Persian Gulf countries, Afghanistan and in some Pakistani regions, is a veil with a hair mesh for the eyes that completely covers a woman's face. The niqab is a Muslim woman's headdress covering the face, but leaving a slit for the eyes.

About 500,000 Muslims live in Belgium. The Belgiun Muslim Council assesses the number of women who wear clothing that fully hides the face as a couple dozen people, the BBC reported.

"As Muslims learn the usages of freedom, they will, like everyone else, begin to disagree and consider political and moral questions in terms of giving reasons for their answers," Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics expert Kenneth Minogue told Trend.

Zeroing in on the burqa, European politicians are sending a message against extremist Islam, but at the same time, they are, unfortunately, making a mountain out of a mole hill, Islam said.

The legislators name security as the main reason for the ban on clothes covering the body from head to toe, which is a very compelling argument, Islam added. 

However, many European countries already have a law prohibiting masks in public places except carnivals. All that needs to be done for security purposes is to enforce the law, she said. This will not be too difficult.

"Burqa debate in Europe is a storm in a teacup," Islam said.

Muslim Executive of Belgium Vice President Isabelle Praile also opposes the bill, claiming that this goes against basic human rights. She believes that such a decision in Belgium could set a dangerous precedent.

"Today it's the full-face veil. Tomorrow the veil, the day after it will be sikh turbans, and later it will perhaps be miniskirts," she said in an interview with AFP.

The debate in Belgium is the continuation of such talks in other European countries. Following the complex regional elections in March, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a ban on the burqa, which according to him, insults women's dignity.

Six years ago, France adopted a law prohibiting wearing headscarves at public schools. Together with the hijab (headscarf), they also banned Christian crosses and Jewish caps.

In August 2009, French authorities banned Muslim women from swimming in public pool in the "burqini," a bathing suit, fully covering the body, resembling a bathing suit with a hood.

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders also advocated a ban on Muslim veils and issued a warning about the "Islamification" of the Dutch society.

Islam does not exclude the "domino effect" throughout Europe. She called the Netherlands, France and Switzerland countries next in the list to legally prohibit the Muslim veil

A firm believer in women's rights, Afghani MP Shinkai Karokhail argues that banning Muslim women from wearing such clothing is tantamount to forcing them to wear it, Reuters reported.

"Democratic countries should not become dictatorships and Muslim women should not be deprived of all kinds of opportunities. It should be their choice," Karokhail told Reuters.

E.Tariverdiyeva contributed to this article.

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