On air: Should all Western countries ban the burqa?
A Belgium parliamentary committee has voted unanimously to ban Islamic face-covering veils in public. If approved by the Belgian parliament, it will become the first European country to implement a ban.
Daniel Bacquelaine, who proposed the bill, says the burqa is not 'compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society', and we "cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen".
The Canadian province of Quebec has also introduced a bill to ban face veils in schools and government buildings, and politicians in France and the Netherlands are also considering their own bans. President Sarkozy says the veil 'has no place in France'.
But Thomas Hammarberg argues a ban would be un-European, going against our ideas of free speech and diversity and instead of helping to liberate oppressed women, it will lead to their alienation.
But this blogger says although meeting a woman in a niqab is socially challenging, it is not threatening.
Is it time for the West to ban burqas? Post your comments here.