Bulgaria’s Pazardzhik Mayor Proposes Ban on Burqas in Public Administration Buildings
The mayor of the city of Pazardzhik, in southern Bulgaria, has proposed to ban the wearing of burqas in buildings housing branches of local and central government, citing security reasons.
The proposal, which has to be endorsed by the city parliament to take effect, has angered the Roma population inhabiting one of the city’s neighbourhoods, Nova TV station reported on Tuesday. According to locals, about 100 women are wearing burqas in that neighborhood and say they won’t take them down when visiting public administration buildings.
The proposal was made less than two weeks after Bulgaria’s Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said that no burqas should be worn in public in Bulgaria. His comments were related to an ongoing trial against 14 people in Pazardzhik accused of spreading an anti-democratic ideology and jihadist propaganda. Tsatsarov also said that the Bulgarian legislation needed to be amended to address flaws that do not contribute to the fight against terrorism.
“After all, we are unable to ensure anyone’s safety if people who can’t be seen enter those public buildings. No one can say who the person is under this clothing,” Pazardzhik Mayor Todor Popov commented about the proposed ban, according to Nova TV.
According to Popov, the proposal aims to safeguard the security of officials and the people visiting public administration buildings, for example the offices where women in burqas submit documents for child benefits and social welfare payments.
Social workers are unable to verify whether a person wearing a burqa is the person whose name and photo are on the identity document presented to them, a public administration official in Pazardzhik told Nova TV.
The municipal authorities have denied allegations the proposed ban would discriminate against people on the grounds of religion.
The city mayor has also proposed a fine of BGN 500 (EUR 250) for first-time offenders, to be doubled in case of repeated offence.
The city parliament in Pazardzhik is expected to discuss the proposal on April 28, according to Nova TV.
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