24 Jul 2011

Ban on veil in Belgium

10:00 am on 24 July 2011

A law is now in force in Belgium banning women from wearing the full Islamic veil in public.

Offenders face a fine of 137.5 euros ($US197) and up to seven days in prison.

The law bans any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer in places like parks and on the street.

The BBC reports it was passed almost unanimously by the lower house of parliament in April 2010.

MPs voted with only two abstentions to back the legislation on the grounds of security, to allow police to identify people.

Other MPs said that full face veils such as the burka or the niqab were a symbol of the oppression of women.

A similar ban came into force in France in April.