Ishaan Tharoor via the washington post
Authorities in the northwestern Italian region of Lombardy have pushed through a ban on the wearing of Islamic veils and head scarves in public buildings and hospitals, supposedly in response to heightened security fears after the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks. The move, which comes into effect next year, marks the first time that a region in Italy has banned burqas, niqabs and other similar garb.
“Whoever wants to enter a hospital in Lombardy must be recognizable and present themselves uncovered,” said Simona Bordonali, head of security, civil protection and immigration in Lombardy, according to the Daily Telegraph. “The burqa [and the] niqab are therefore banned.”
Lombardy, a wealthy hotbed of industry, is governed by the right-wing Northern League, which has advocated a strong line against immigration and the supposed threat posed by Muslims.
Northern League politicians elsewhere have enacted smaller, local bans on Islamic attire. In 2010, the town of Novara, in the neighboring region of Piedmont, imposed its own particular restrictions. The year prior, the mayor of the town of Varallo Sesia instituted a ban on the burqini — a type of swimwear that covers the head.
As WorldViews detailed earlier this year, several countries in Europe and Asia have public bans on burqas and head scarves, mostly as local ordinances and laws. This is often the consequence of specific state policies on secularism. But more recent efforts seem to reflect growing concern about Muslim integration and Islamist infiltration.
Last week, members of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union proposed a full ban on burqas in public. “Anyone who wears them is demonstrating that they are not ready to integrate in our free and open society,” a statement read. Earlier this year in Canada, the relatively small matter of whether a woman could wear a niqab during citizenship ceremonies became a political wedge issue in the country’s elections.
In many instances, though, the voices for tolerance and multiculturalismhave been just as loud.
Andrea Orlando, Italy’s justice minister, reacted harshly to Lombardy’s burqa ban. “Right now the last thing we need is to wave symbols about and make propaganda — a domain in which the Islamist extremists are unbeatable,” Orlando said.