Bulgaria – Friday, September 30, the Bulgarian Parliament banned “the wearing in public places of clothing masking partially or completely the face” law that would follow the various Islamist attacks that have hit Europe recently.
The ban echoes similar laws in some EU countries such as France, the Netherlands and Belgium. Persons who violate this new law will be obliged to pay a fine of 200 leva (100 euros) and 1,500 leva (770 euros) after the first offense. Exceptions can be made if the face or part should be hidden for health or professionnal reasons.
The Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms refused to take part in the vote, saying that the ban would encourage ethnic and religious intolerance.
The ruling party GERB has assured that it has nothing to do with religious clothing, but rather to increase national security and to provide better video surveillance. “This law does not apply to religious communities and is not repressive. We did a very good law for the safety of our children,” assured the MP GERB Krasimir Velchev.
Activists of Amnesty International, meanwhile, claim that the ban violates the right of Bulgarian women’s freedom of expression and religion, and is part of a disturbing trend of intolerance, xenophobia and racism.
Currently in Bulgaria 7.9% of the population is Muslim, mostly from the Turkish minority.