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On air: Should all Western countries ban the burqa?

Claudia Bradshaw Claudia Bradshaw | 13:50 UK time, Thursday, 1 April 2010

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.

It seems that many Canadians support a ban. Barbara Kay salutes Quebec and says it's about equality. But Sheetal Pathak says muslim women don't need saving.

Daniel Pipes thinks these veils are not just a security issue but also pose a criminal one too. An argument backed up by a recent ban in a Bangladeshi hospital, due to a rise in phone thefts.

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.

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