Belgium will become the second EU nation to ban the burqa and niqab after France, reported RTE, Ireland's public service broadcaster. Starting next week, Muslim women who choose to wear the garment that covers their face and body will be fined €137.50 (£120) and spend up to seven days behind bars.
Belgium and France are not the only countries to embark on this controversial move. Just this week, Australia also followed suit by cobbling together a proposed law that would require women to unveil themselves for security purposes if requested by a law enforcement official, reported News.com.au.
But Britain's key Muslim civil society organisation said chances of a similar initiative implemented here in the UK are slim.
According to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) -- a national umbrella organisation that aims to promote cooperation and consensus on Muslim affairs in the UK -- it boils down to the tolerance woven throughout UK society.
“Implementing the burqa ban will not happen because the UK is a more open and inclusive society than the rest of Europe ... Multiculturism is a British institution and the whole nation wants to preserve it,” the MCB told The Huffington Post.
Nabila Ramdani, a Paris-born UK-based journalist and academic, told The Huffington Post that a lack of tolerance is the reason European countries are adopting the burqa ban. “There’s a more tolerant environment in the UK and they are much more inclusive than the French and Belgian societies. Britain has always been more inclusive and practically deals with multiculturalism. You see it everywhere with minorities represented in media, politics, business -- something you don't see in France or Belgium.”
But Ramdani also said that the UK’s anti-discrimination laws -- unlike in Belgium and France -- protect the UK from politicians passing such laws. “There are no strong anti-discrimination laws in Belgium and France to fight that. Worse, in both countries you have institutionalized racism."
Though the UK government went on record saying it would never adopt such measures, calling them “unBritish,” just last year a YouGov poll revealed that a majority of Britons expressed that they would like to see the garment banned, with only 27 percent disagreeing that the garment should be completely outlawed.
Belgium’s ban kicking off next week may stir debate in the House of Commons, but the passage of a similar law in the UK remains unlikely.
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