Belgium: constitutional court refuses to suspend veil ban law

Belgium’s highest court on Wednesday refused to suspend a law banning the wearing of burqas, but said it was still examining whether the recently-adopted act is legal.

The Constitutional Court ruled that there was no evidence that the two women who have appealed against the law have suffered serious discrimination, the Belga news agency reported – leaving no ground to suspend it.

The measure came into force in July, making Belgium the second in Europe after France to criminalize the burqa, which completely covers women’s bodies, as well as other types of Islamic veils.

Anyone caught in public places with their face completely or partially covered – thus preventing identification – is liable to a fine of up to 137 euros (182 dollars) and up to seven days’ imprisonment.

DPA, 6 October 2011