Nationalist MPs to Submit Burqa Ban to Bulgaria's Parliament
Nationalist party VMRO is to table a bill banning the use of burqas in public, the party's leader Krasimir Karakachanov has said.
VMRO is part of the Patriotic Front coalition that backs the minority government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
The move, which is expected later on Tuesday, follows a suggestion by Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov who opined it should be forbidden to wear burqas in public spaces, shortly after a trial on spreading radical Islamist propaganda began in the southern town of Pazardzhik.
Local media outlets quote Karakachanov as saying his party has drawn experience from the existing legislative practices in France and Belgium, including different sanctions ranging from fines to imprisonment.
He has called burqas, a type of Islamic hijab covering the entire body with a rectanbular piece of semitransparent cloth in front of the eyes, an "instrument of Islamist propaganda".
The full veil has never been typical for Bulgaria, not even in the Ottoman Empire, and was imported "from abroad", Karakachanov has pointed out.
A possible burqa ban has drawn fire from human rights organizations, which have suggested the debate is artificial and it will only alienate Bulgarian Muslims.
Burqas have gained some popularity among neighborhoods of Pazardzhik and adjacent, where certain families have been exposed to radicalization, presumably with money channeled through foundations with ties to Saudi Arabia.
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