Friday, July 19

The burka to ban and fine in Bulgaria



Bulgaria has followed France and Belgium by banning face veils in public with a £664 fine for those who repeatedly flout the law.

Referring to the burka and the niqab, its parliament approved a law that “bans wearing in public clothing that partially or completely covers the face”.

There will be a fine of 200 lev (£89), rising to 1,500 lev (£664) for repeated offences.

Several towns have already banned the niqab locally.

The niqab covers the face except the eyes, while the burka covers the whole face, often incorporating a mesh screen to see through.

Bulgaria’s Muslim community, which makes up about 13% of the population, dates back centuries to Ottoman times.

There has been a small reported rise recently in the number of Roma women wearing the niqab among conservative communities.

Just under 10% of Bulgaria’s population is Roma, around a third of whom are Muslim.

The MDL party, which represents Muslim interests, opposed the legislation, claiming rival parties were “sowing religious intolerance”.

Amnesty International also condemned the move.

Its Europe director, John Dalhuisen said: “This law is part of a disturbing trend of intolerance, xenophobia and racism in Bulgaria.”

France and Belgium have previously banned the burka or niqab, while Switzerland’s lower house narrowly approved a draft bill on a nationwide ban this week.

Germany’s interior minister said he was in favour of a partial ban in August.

In the UK, a recent YouGov poll showed 57% of people wanted to ban the face veil in public.

A quarter opposed a ban in Britain.