Italy: Xenophobic party tables anti-burqa bill
Rome, 17 Sept. (AKI) – Italy’s anti-immigrant North League party on Friday introduced a bill to the lower house of parliament that would ban the burqa. Wearing the burqa will be punishable by a year in prison, fines of 150 to 300 euros for the wearer and 30,000 euros for anyone forcing a woman to don the face-concealing Islamic garment.
Anyone coercing a minor or a disabled woman into wearing a burqa will be eligible for a 60,000 euro fine.
If a woman is wearing the burqa of her own volition, the 150-300 euro fine can be reduced, if she agrees to do community service aimed at better integrating Muslim immigrants.
“This bill represents a step forward because we are not just facing a problem of public order, but – we believe – an offence to women’s dignity,” said Northern League member of parliament Carolina Lussana, presenting the bill to journalists.
“It is also a violation of the principle of equality between men and women enshrined in our Constitution,” she said.
The bill is likely to draw criticism from many Muslim immigrants, but 73 percent of Italians believe the burqa should not be allowed to be worn in public places, according to a recent poll by Panel Data.
The right-leaning Northern League’s bill came just days after France’s upper house of parliament, the Senate, voted by 246 to one to ban the burqa.
Under the new French law, women will be fined or jailed for covering their faces in public.