Bulgaria bans burkas and other garments covering the face

Bulgaria on Friday passed a nationwide law banning garments that cover the face, including burkas, from most public places.

Bulgaria's rightist Patriotic Front had tabled the bill claiming that burkas and other clothes hiding the face increase the threat of terrorism.

The law was passed as hostility toward Muslims has grown in Bulgaria, a major gateway for migrants trying to reach Europe from Turkey. Human rights organizations have been criticizing the country for its harsh treatment of the migrants.

Burkas will be prohibited in public institutions, schools, areas of administrative and public services. Homes and places of worship are not included in the ban.

The fine has been set at 200 leva (115 dollars) for the first offense and 1,500 for repeats, unless the offender is a public servant - in that case, the fine is 2,000 leva.

Legislators from the opposition party DPS, representing the Turkish minority in Bulgaria, boycotted the vote, protesting what their leader Mustafa Karadayi described as a "law banning burkas."

The Turks are the largest minority in the country, making up 9 per cent of the 7.2 million inhabitants.

Several municipalities, such as the town Pazardzhik in central Bulgaria, already passed local regulation banning the burkas and began fining violators.

Last update: Fri, 30/09/2016 - 13:36

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