France has recently passed a ban on the burqa, and the lower house of the Belgian legislature has passed a similar law. The latest reports also indicate that France will prosecute men who force women to wear the burqa.
Our Flemish correspondent VH has compiled a report on these developments with material taken from several sources. First, a translation from Elsevier:
A year in prison for men who force women into a burqa
by Jeroen Langelaar
France is going to take very hard line against men who force women to wear the niqab or the burqa. A man who puts his wife under such pressure will be given one year’s imprisonment or a fine of €15,000 [US $20,000]. This is what the French newspaper Le Figaro reports this Friday.
The newspaper has managed to obtain the bill that will be submitted by the French Government in July.
Previously the French Minister for Immigration, Eric Besson, revoked the French citizenship of a man because he forced his spouse to wear a burqa.
According to the new law, a woman who wears such a garment will receive a fine of €150 [US $200]. “No one should wear clothes in public which aim to cover the face,” is what the bill states.
However, a fine is not the only consequence for women who wear a niqab or burqa. They also may be forced to take a course in which they are taught why it is desired in France that the face be fully visible.
VH summarizes the new Belgian law:
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Belgium yesterday approved a burqa ban [the law proposal mentions a fine of €15 to €25 and a prison sentence of one to seven days — festivities such as Carnival constitute an exception to the rule]. But the legislation is likely to be introduced only after the upcoming elections.
The Belgian Senate has indicated it needs more time to form an appraisal judgment. Senators doubt, among other things, whether the ban can stand up to a test by the European Union.
He adds a quote from Le Figaro:
Article 1: “No one may in public wear an outfit designed to hide the face.” The failure to comply with the prohibition in Article 1 shall be punished with a fine of the second class, of €150.” As a sentencing option or in addition, “a citizenship course.”
Article 2: The text also creates a new crime of “incitement to hide the face due to the sex of the person.” The act of coercing the concealment of the face, with “violence, threats, abuse of power or authority, shall be punished with one year in prison and a fine of €15,000.” This new crime is part of Chapter 5 of the Penal Code which deals with violations of the dignity of the person.