Ban on Face-Covering Veils in Bulgaria Passed by MP Committee
Lawmakers at a parliamentary committee have adopted on first reading nationwide a restriction on the wearing of veils covering a person's face in public places, local media report.
The move comes after several towns and cities across the country passed their own regulations restricting the use of such items to cover the face in public.
Wrongly known as "the burqa ban", the restriction was submitted as a bill by nationalist VMRO party.
A majority of committee members now maintan changes are due to the draft text that will allow football fans and participants in carnivals and other kinds of festivities not to be affected by the restriction.
Proponents maintain the move will contribute to national security by allowing the easier identification of anyone in the streets, public institutions and elsewhere and will eradicate "the import of radical Islam" that is not intrinsic to Bulgarian Muslims.
Burqas, niqabs and other types of sartorial hijab have gained modest popularity in some neigborhoods of Southern Bulgarian towns and cities, with nationalists and conservatives warning women wearing them do so on financial grounds.
A ban enjoys support from both the main ruling party, conservative GERB, and the biggest opposition BSP. Liberal and ethnic Turk-dominated DPS, which caters to minority rights, did not have any of its MPs attending the committee session.
The ban is yet to be debated and voted by full Parliament.
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