Proposal to Ban Face-Covering Veils Also Tabled in Bulgaria's Plovdiv

Domestic | May 3, 2016, Tuesday // 08:47|  views

Proponents of the ban have maintained that, while full Islamic veils might be typical for some Gulf countries and elsewhere, they have nothing to do with Bulgarian Muslims. File photo, EPA/BGNES

A ban on the use of veils covering most of the face is also to be considered in Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city.

A proposal has been submitted by municipal councilors from the nationalist Patriotic Front coalition, Darik Radio reports citing Aleksandar Sidi from VMRO, which is one of PF's two main parties.

The move comes days after similar restrictions were introduced in Stara Zagora and Pazardzhik.

Under the proposal, violators ould face a BGN 300-500 (EUR 150-250) fine, with a second offense leading to another one of BGN 1000-1500.

Reportedly, Mayor Ivan Totev said he would back the ban.

Known in Bulgaria as the "burqa ban" (even though most women it is targeting wear the so-called niqab which leaves the eyes and part of the nose uncovered), the restriction was first put forward by Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov, who suggested "burqas" should be banned from wearing in public places.

Nationalists, but also politicians from other parties maintain the full veils, which have by no means been typical for Bulgarian Muslims over the past centuries, are worn by certain Roma groups where women "get paid" for doing it.

Advocates say veils pose a serious risk to security.

Opponents, however, argue the restriction would marginalize some Muslim women by discouraging them from attending schools or looking for work.

The text approved by the two cities' local administrations does not mention any specific kind of Islamic garments, but refers to any type of clothing that covers the face in a way making it difficult for authorities to identify the person. Restrictions are now in force in institutions, but also streets, parks, shops, and public transport vehicles.

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Tags: burqa, veils, Pazardzhik, Stara Zagora, Aleksandar Sidi, Plovdiv, Sotir Tsatsarov


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