Belgium to enforce burqa ban from next week

Thursday 14 July 2011 17.08
Belgium - A Muslim woman dressed in niqab walks through Brussels
Belgium - A Muslim woman dressed in niqab walks through Brussels

Belgium will enforce a burqa ban from 23 July with a fine and possible jail time for women who wear it, Belgian media has said.

It joins France as the second European Union nation to forbid full veils.

The new law was published yesterday in the kingdom's official journal after deputies approved it unanimously in parliament in April.

Offenders will face a fine of €137.50 and up to seven days behind bars.

An estimated 270 people wear the face-covering niqab or the full-body burqa in Belgium.

France - home to Europe's biggest Muslim population - became the first EU country to ban the burqa on 11 April.

In France, a woman who repeatedly insists on appearing veiled in public can be fined €150 and ordered to attend re-education classes.