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Muslim woman’s niqab pulled from her face by Belgium diplomat

Muslim woman’s niqab pulled from her face by Belgium diplomat

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday August 20 2014

The Daily Mail and The Times both report that a senior Belgian diplomat has been arrested for ripping a face veil off a Qatari princess after she stopped him in the street to ask for directions.

The Muslim woman, who has not been named, approached Jean-Marie Pire with two other women to ask for directions to the famous square in Brussels, Grand Place, last Thursday.

Pire allegedly told her “I don’t talk to anyone if I can’t see their face”. He claims to have said so because “I wanted to make it clear that the veil is banned in Belgium”.

He said, “Because the person asking me a question didn’t seem to hear me, I lifted her veil. I know I shouldn’t have done that, but what she did wasn’t legal either!”.

During the incident, the woman’s earrings were ‘violently dislodged’ and she suffered cuts and bruises as a result.

Pire is being questioned by Belgian police after the woman lodged a complaint against his conduct. Pire faces the prospect of being charged with assault.

However, the woman is also expected to face a fine of 137.5 Euros and up to seven days in prison for wearing the face veil in public.

Belgium introduced a ban on the wearing of the niqab in public places in 2011, shortly after France set a precedent by legislating on the issue in 2010.

The Daily Mail observes that the Belgian constitutional court rejected an appeal to revoke the ban by ruling that it did not violate women’s human rights. The ruling by the Belgian constitutional court last January served as the precedent for the decision by the European Court of Human Rights in its rejection of an appeal claiming the French ban on the niqab and burqa infringed upon civil rights. The Belgian constitutional court in its ruling referenced the notion of ‘living together’ in its upholding of the ban in Belgium, an issue which also featured in the ECHR’s defence of the ban in France.

The Daily Mail further notes that while no ban exists in Britain, Conservative MP Philip Hollobone has attempted to propose a Bill on ‘Face Coverings (Prohibition)’. However, the Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. The Private Members’ Bill will make no further progress.


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