NEWS » Lombardy burqa ban

Lombardy burqa ban

In the aftermaths of the Islamic terrorist attacks, Lombardy, one of the most populous and wealthier regions in Italy, has decided in favour of a ban on wearing the Islamic veil and burqa in hospitals and local government offices.

The measure is considered an extension of the Italian law which already prohibits helmets, clothing or any other items that make identification difficult.  

The new legislation in Lombardy will come into force on January the 1st, 2016 and for the first time Islamic face covering is considered out of law.

The first Italian city to ban face covering was Venice which banned women from wearing the burqa and niqab, but also no one is allowed to wear the traditional Venetian carnival mask, in public museums.

The new regulation passed in Milan caused strong reactions among political parties and voters.

Italian newspapers reported that Andrea Orlando, justice minister, commented that the new legislation appeared to be a "symbolic propaganda" considering that Italy already has a national law on face coverings.

Leaders of other Italian regions made it clear that they were not in agreement with the new legislation passed in Milan, and therefore Islamic women will be able to continue wearing their traditional dress, with their face covered, even if working in public services.

The opponents of the ban made it clear that this could cause confusion and warned that the government should decide that the burqa should be banned in all situations. There's no sense in banning face coverings in museums (Venice), hospitals and public services (Lombardy) when it is possible to go to the stadium and other meeting places with faces covered with masks and other hear gear.

In Italy Islam is the second largest religion after Catholicism with around 1.2 million Muslims in the country.

The anti-immigrant Northern League strongly campaigned for the ban of the burka. Their leader, Matteo Salvini, was in favour of the measure, when last year, a similar ban was introduced in southern Switzerland. 

 Already in 2009, The Northern League leaders in Varallo Sesia, Piedmont, installed signs at the entrance of the town warning that the wearing of burqa, niqab and burqini – a swimsuit worn by some Muslim women – was forbidden. Residents campaigned against the anti-burqa signs and five years later the council had to remove the signs and pay 11,500 euros in compensation. 

Giulia Lombardo

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