Muslim woman fined €500 for wearing burka in Italy
Muslim woman fined £430 for wearing burka in Italy
A Muslim woman in Italy has been fined 500 euros (£430) for wearing a burka in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.
Nick Squires in Rome
Published: 12:02PM BST 04 May 2010In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy's government is drafting a bill that would make it illegal to wear the burka Photo: GETTY
The Tunisian immigrant, Amel Marmouri, 26, was fined by police in the city of Novara, in the northern Piedmont region.
The town council is controlled by the right-wing Northern League, which has pushed for much tougher immigration controls and at a national level forms part of Silvio Berlusconi's coalition government.
Mrs Marmouri was in a post office when police officers stopped her and issued her with the fine.
"As far as I know this is a first in Italy," said police officer Mauro Franzinelli.
Her husband, Ben Salah Braim, 36, said the family would struggle to pay the penalty.
He said his wife would continue to wear the full-length item of clothing because he did not want her to be seen by other men, but in future she would be forced to stay at home most of the time.
Novara introduced an ordinance in January that prohibits the wearing of burkas. The regulation invokes a 1975 anti-terrorism law, which prohibits people from wearing anything that obscures their faces and impedes identification.
The mayor of the town, Massimo Giordano, a member of the Northern League, said he had hoped that the new ordinance would have deterred Muslim women from wearing burkas and niqabs.
"But unfortunately it is apparently not yet clear to everyone that clothes preventing the wearer's identification can be tolerated at home but not in public places, in schools, on buses or in post offices," he said.
He said the new rule was introduced because it is "the only tool at our disposal to stop behaviour that makes the already difficult process of integration even harder".
Last week Belgium's lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bill banning clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified, including the niqab and burka.
The ban, which will not enter force for weeks, now has to be approved by the Senate.
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy's government is drafting a bill that would make it illegal to wear the burka.
Muslim woman fined for wearing burqa in northern Italy
Tunisian given on-the-spot fine of €500 under terrorism laws in Novara, run by anti-immigration Northern League
- guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 5 May 2010 10.04 BST
A Muslim woman in Italy was fined for wearing a face-covering burqa in public. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
A Muslim woman in northern Italy has been given a €500 (£430) on-the-spot fine under anti-terrorism laws for wearing a face-covering burqa in public, according to reports.
In what is reported to be the first such case amid proposals for sanctions against traditional Islamic dress in a series of European countries, the 26-year-old Tunisian woman was stopped by police in the city of Novara, a stronghold of the anti-immigration Northern League.
The woman was wearing a full-length burqa with a niqab-type veil covering all her face apart from her eyes. She and her husband, both legal residents, were en route to Friday prayers when they were stopped by police for an identity check. Some reports said the pair were inside a post office at the time, while others said they were standing near it.
The husband was able to produce papers for the couple, but he refused to allow the male officers to see his wife's unveiled face to confirm her identity. This was done when a female officer was called to the scene.
Although there was no problem with the couple's status, the woman was fined €500 under a municipal ordinance introduced in January that bans clothing preventing easy identification of the wearer in public buildings.
The measure was introduced by Novara's Northern League mayor, Massimo Giordano, Italy's Ansa news agency reported. It is based on a national anti-terrorism law passed in 1975 which was intended to prevent the wearing of masks or motorcycle helmets.
Some police spot checks were specifically aimed at stopping Muslim women from wearing face-covering garments, the town's police chief, Paolo Cortese, told Ansa.
"Unfortunately it is apparently not yet clear to everyone that clothes preventing the wearer's identification can be tolerated at home but not in public places, in schools, on buses or in post offices," he said. "There are still some people that refuse to understand that our community in Novara does not accept and does not want people going around wearing the burqa."
According to the news agency, two other municipalities in northern Italy have issued anti-burqa rules based on the 1975 law. The AFP news agency quoted police as saying they believed it was the first time a fine had been imposed.
The woman is permitted to appeal against the fine.
About one in 12 of Novara's 100,000-strong population are immigrants. Very few Muslim woman in the town generally wear a niqab or burqa, according to police.
Last week, Belgium's parliament voted to ban face-covering Islamic garments for women. France is considering similar legislation.