The European Court of Human Rights upheld the Belgian ban on the niqab, a full-face veil, in public spaces Tuesday.
The niqab ban was first implemented in Belgium in 2011. Punishment results in fines and imprisonment for repeated offenses. Two Muslim women, Samia Belcacemi and Yaminia Oussar who currently live in Belgium, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights over not being allowed to wear the niqab in public spaces.
“The question whether the full-face veil was accepted in the Belgian public sphere was… a choice of society,” arguing that it does not ban freedom of religion nor discriminate against the Muslim community.
The court added that this ban was “necessary in a democratic society” so that different groups of people could live harmoniously.
France became the first country to ban the niqab in 2011, according to BBC News. Switzerland and Austria also currently have national laws in place that prohibit the wearing of the niqab and burqua.
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