Italian committee approves face veil ban bill

Veiled women The bill will be debated and voted on by parliament after the summer recess

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An Italian parliamentary committee has passed a draft law which will ban women from wearing veils which cover their faces in public.

The bill, which has the backing of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's central-right coalition, would prohibit the wearing of a burka, niqab or any headwear which covers the face.

The bill will go to a parliamentary vote after the summer recess.

Belgium and France have already banned the full-face veil in public.

'Annihilates dignity'

If passed, those who defied the ban would face a fine of 150-300 euros ($213-426; £130-260) and some kind of community service, according to Ansa news agency.

For those who forced someone else to wear the covering, the penalty would be 30,000 euros and up to 12 months in jail, Ansa reports.

Lawmaker Barbara Saltamartini, from Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom party, said she welcomed the move.

"Final approval will put an end to the suffering of many women who are often forced to wear the burka or niqab, which annihilates their dignity and gets in the way of integration," Ms Saltamartini said in a statement.

The opposition voted against the move.

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