Italy Moves to Ban Any Headwear (Like a Burqa) Which Covers the Face

A good move or not?

Recently, I was in Barcelona, Spain and was astounded by the number of women in full burqas. The irony of seeing a young woman wearing a bikini top and tiny shorts next to another woman in a full, black body bag with eye holes was almost comical if it hadn’t been so disturbing.

I thought to myself, “how would a woman in a burqa deal with seeing a woman next to her barely wearing any clothes? Does she expect God to strike the woman dead? And, since the woman isn’t struck dead, does this frustrate or affect the woman’s belief in God?”

Yes, these are the things that run through my head.

So, today, I was not surprised to read that an Italian parliament committee is drafting a law which would ban woman in Italy from wearing veils that cover their faces in public.

Barcelona started the trend last year by banning the Islamic veil in some public spaces, but not all.

The bill in Italy is being backed by the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi’s central-right wing coalition. This bill would “prohibit the wearing of a burqa, niqab or any headwear which covers the face.”

Belgium and France have already banned the full-face veil in public.

After the summer recess, this bill will go to vote.

Barbara Saltamartini, from Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, welcomes this ban.

“Final approval will put an end to the suffering of many women who are often forced to wear the burqa or niqab, which annihilates their dignity and gets in the way of integration,” she states.

If the bill passes, anyone wearing the full-face veil in public would be fined 150-300 euros (which is $213 to $426) and some form of community service.

More interestingly, however, if someone forces a woman to wear the covering, the penalty would be 30,000 euros (about $42,000) and up to 12 months in jail.

Personally, I think this only makes sense.

First of all, for reasons of public safety, you should be able to view everyone’s faces in public. There should not be a reason for anyone to walk around completely covered up and anonymous to public view.

Secondly, if someone with such devout religious beliefs can’t handle living in a secular nation, they don’t have to live there. You don’t get to reap all of the benefits of western society and yet hold onto backwards beliefs about gender and the role of women. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

If I went to an Islamic country, I would be made to wear a headscarf as part of their law, correct? So, it is only fair that in a secular society, there be rules in place that adhere to the customs of that culture, as well.

No one is suggesting that these women have to wear revealing clothing or have to show their hair. But, having to show one’s face in public is pretty reasonable.

Who knows? Maybe some of the women will like being able to feel the sun warm their faces and feel the cool breeze on their lips. A little liberation can go a long way and can trigger a movement on a much larger scale.

It all begins with lifting the veil, after all.



  • erikdolnack

    Thu, 04.08.11 at 09:27AM

    As I understand this issue, much of the reason behind the “burqa ban” is the concealment of identity. If a society legally permitted the wearing of burqas, it might as well permit the wearing of masks in banks and other public places where robbery is known to occur.

    While I am sympathetic to democratic demands concerning law, in this case it is a question of a minority vote going against the demands of a larger majority. If the population of Italy was 51% or more shiite Muslim, then I would defend the right to wear burqas in public. However, as the Islamic population of Italy is relatively small in number, those wishing to wear the burqa must adhere to a majority ruling concerning this issue and conform.

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