Belgium lawmakers are due to debate legislation that would ban full-face Islamic veils in public. If, as expected, they approve the draft law, Belgium would become the first European country to ban the wearing of the burka or niqab in public places. It comes a day after France announced its own plans to ban the garments.
However, Thursday afternoon’s vote is under threat from a political crisis that could see the collapse of the Belgian government. A Dutch-speaking party is threatening imminent resignation from the ruling coalition unless action is taken to resolve a long-standing dispute about power-sharing.
Update: See “Belgian government collapses after party quits coalition”, Guardian, 22 April 2010
Further update: See Intissar Kherigi, “A Belgian face-veil ban would be senseless”, Comment is Free, 22 April 2010