Woman defies law banning the burqa

A Moroccan woman living in a small town in Belgium has single-handedly triggered a national debate on multiculturalism after refusing to obey a municipal injunction to stop wearing a burqa.

The woman has now prompted politicians in the Dutch-speaking north of Belgium to talk about changing federal law, after she became the first person in Belgium to be fined for wearing the all-enveloping veil and robe.

She has so far refused to pay the £80 fine, or even to co-operate with police and municipal authorities in the Flemish town of Maaseik.

The woman’s husband was named in a Brussels court yesterday as one of 13 men accused of aiding and abetting terrorists linked to the Madrid train bombings.

Khalid Bouloudo, 30, a pastry chef, is alleged to be the Belgian co-ordinator of the Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain, an anti-western organisation linked to the Madrid blasts and the 2003 bombings in Casablanca that killed nearly 50 people.

The burqa, together with a smaller type of face mask, the niqab, has been banned by bylaw in the cities and towns of Ghent, Antwerp, Sint-Truden, Lebbeke and Maaseik.

The mayor of Maaseik, Jan Cleemers, said he acted after six women started wearing burqas, alarming locals. Five of the women stopped wearing the garments.

A police inspector in Maaseik said the head-to-toe covering of Bouloudo’s wife, who has refused to speak to police or give her name, offended and alarmed locals.

“You cannot identify or recognise someone when they’re wearing a burqa, especially at night. It’s not normal, we don’t have that in our culture,” he said.

Muslim Veils:

Source: BBC News
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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Daily Telegraph, UK
Aug. 8, 2005
David Rennie in Brussels

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday August 30, 2005.
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