Ombudsman: Burqas Ban Should Be about Discrimination, Not National Security
Bulgaria's National Ombudsman Maya Manolova has warned that restrictions to wearing full-
face veils, introduced on some cities, should not be justified with national security as they are unlikely to address the issue.
The right to covering most of one's face and body, however, clashes with non-discrimination and gender equality principles despite the fact that religious garments are part of the European Convention on Human Rights.
A blanket ban on wearing face-covering veils, colloquially known as "the burqa ban", has been adopted in several places such as Pazardzhik and Stara Zagora, with nationalist VMRO party putting forward a proposal for Sofia. National security arguments arguments were given after the idea was initially endorsed by Bulgaria's Chief Prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, who suggested the restriction should be implemented nationwide.
Manolova, however, said removing feels from public spaces would not address any problem. "Terrorists need not wear beards. We saw what happens - normally they are dressed according to present standards, with shorts and a backpack."
Manolova also calls into question the side effects of the ban if it is adopted at a local level.
"If for example in the town of Kaspichan burqas are forbidden and if they are not in Vidin, if someone is traveling from Vidin to Kaspichan should changes clothes in Kaspichan. Maybe there should be a new road sign: "No Burqas"."
A bill was tabled in April by one of the parties of nationalist Patriotic Front coalition.
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