Burqa ban 'inappropriate': German interior minister

4th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany's interior minister hit out at moves in Belgium and France to ban the wearing of the full Islamic veil or burqa in public, saying even a debate would be "unnecessary."

Such a move is "inappropriate and therefore not required," Thomas de Maiziere said, according to excerpts of an interview published by the Leipziger Volkszeitung local daily.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's government is drafting a bill that would make it illegal to wear the face-covering veil, making France the second European country after Belgium to move toward a ban.

Belgian MPs approved a bill last week. It will not enter into force for weeks and may have to be re-examined if early elections are called as Belgium battles a political crisis.

Both countries have drawn fire from rights campaigners and Muslim groups.

On Sunday German MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin, European parliament vice-president and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partners, called for a Europe-wide ban.

Italian police fined a Muslim woman 500 euros (650 dollars) for wearing a full Islamic veil in a street in the northern city of Novara, possibly the first such incident in Italy, city officials said Tuesday.

The city is a stronghold of the anti-immigration Northern League, allies to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and adopted a decree in January banning the burqa in public places, Mauro Franzinelli of the municipal police told AFP.

While there is no specific legislation on the burqa, covering the face in public -- even with a motorcycle helmet -- has been banned in Italy since 1975.

© 2010 AFP

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