Belgium: Parliament to vote on burka ban
Update 3: Fixed typos, bumped to top post.
The French parliament is expected to vote on a similar bill in July. Both countries will probably have a burqa/niqab ban in place by the end of summer, but it's unclear who will do so first.
It should be noted that the burka is already banned in several towns in Belgium, including Brussels and Antwerp. These bans also include tourists. 29 women were fined in the Brussels region in 2009 for wearing the veil.
The Belgian Chamber of Representatives passed a law (NL) today banning the burka and niqab. The law itself doesn't mention any specific types of clothing, but rather bans any clothing which covers the face, wholly or partially, with the exception of festivals such as the carnival.
The law passed almost unanimously. Two SP.A. members abstained, in protest of the way that Vlaams Belang abused the good intentions of the bill for other purposes.
According to the law, wearing a burka could lead to a fine of 15-25 euro and a jail sentence of up to 7 days.
As mentioned below, the Senate will use its privilege to review the law, which means it will not yet go into effect.
Even if the law will pass in parliament, it now seems as though it won't become law so easily. The Flemish Open Vld and CD&V parties in the Senate already announced they would like to review the language of the law, which they say would not stand up in court. Given the political situation in Belgium, and the fact that the parliament is about to disband, this means in practice that the law will have to wait.
Last week the Belgian gov't fell, and the parliamentary session which was supposed to vote on a burka ban was postponed.
This week it's back on the agenda. Needless to say, yes or no to the burka ban is not what's been making headlines in Belgium recently.
I will post further updates as they occur.