Sunday, December 13, 2015

Italy: Lombardy bans burqas, niqabs citing security reasons

(RT) The northern Italian region of Lombardy has banned the wearing of Islamic veils, such as burqas and niqabs in public offices and hospitals citing security concerns.

The most populous and prosperous region of Italy, governed by a member of the right-wing Northern League Party, has amended its 1975 legislation to forbid people from going to public offices and healthcare facilities with their faces covered "without a valid reason,” the Local reports.

“We have updated the law and now nobody with a covered face will be allowed to enter [public offices and hospitals],” Lombardy Governor Robeto Maroni told Il Fatto Quotidiano on Thursday.

Italy already has laws prohibiting wearing helmets or any clothing that makes identification difficult in public places without good reason. However, burqas and niqabs are presently allowed and justified on the grounds of freedom of faith.

Burqas will be banned in Lombardy from January 1, 2016, when the new amendment comes into force. The regional authorities justified their decision for security reasons. They said “serious terror attacks” had forced them to enhance security measures, apparently referring to the Paris attacks in November.

“Whoever wants to enter a hospital in Lombardy must be recognizable and present themselves uncovered. The burqa [and the] niqab are therefore banned,” Simona Bordonali, Lombardy’s head of security, civil protection and immigration said, as cited by the Telegraph.

The decision comes just a week after Venice passed a ban on wearing burqas and niqabs, as well as traditional Venetian carnival masks in public museums, the Telegraph reports.

The introduction of the new rules follows strong rhetoric from the Northern League Party leader Matteo Salvini directed at the Italian Muslim community. Earlier, he said a similar ban in Switzerland’s southern region of Ticino was “absolutely correct.”