Europe and the politics behind the veil
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Despite ongoing political campaigns against the wearing of Islamic veils in public places, no country in western Europe has banned the garments outright. A look at the situation, country by country.
FRANCE: In 2004 France passed a law banning the wearing of headscarves or any other "conspicuous" religious symbols in state schools. However on Tuesday the country's top administrative body said there were no legal grounds for a complete ban on the wearing of full-face veils in public. The State Council said the burqa could be outlawed in some places for security reasons.
BELGIUM: On Wednesday a parliament committee is to begin debating a draft law that would ban niqabs and burqas in public places.
Numerous local authorities already ban the full veil in public places, and police have powers to ban the wearing of masks outdoors -- except in the carnival season.
DENMARK: In January the government expressed its intention to seek a law banning full-face veils, but it has not yet done so.
THE NETHERLANDS: Several draft laws concerning the wearing of the veil have been mooted, including measures which would ban the garments for teachers and for civil servants.
ITALY: A 1975 law aimed at protecting public order makes it illegal to cover one's face in public places and the provision applies to the veil. Some mayors from the anti-immigrant Northern League have banned the wearing of the full veil in their towns.
BRITAIN: There is no law in Britain restricting the wearing of garments for religious reasons. However in March 2007 the education ministry published directives allowing directors of public establishments and denominational schools to ban the niqab veil.
AUSTRIA: Social Democratic Women's Minister Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek has said she would like a ban on the full Islamic veil in public spaces if the number of women veiled from head to toe increases dramatically.
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