Lombardy bans the burqa and niqab

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The regional government of Lombardy has made an amendment to legislation that will ban the burqa and niquab. Photo: Fixers/Flicker
16:12 CET+01:00
Italy's northeastern region of Lombardy has amended legislation in order to outlaw the burqa and niqab from public offices and hospitals.

The regional government said it has amended a piece of 1975 legislation so as to prevent people from entering public buildings with their faces covered "without a valid reason".

Until now the traditional burqa and niqab -  two types of face veil worn by many Muslim women - have been justifiable on grounds of faith, but they will be outlawed under new rules that take effect on January 1st.

“We have updated the law and now nobody with a covered face will be allowed to enter [public offices and hospitals],” Lombardy governor, Robeto Maroni, from Italy's right-wing Northern League party told Il Fatto Quotidiano.

The amendment comes after strong rhetoric from party leader, Matteo Salvini, on the subject of Italy's Muslim community.

In November, Salvini hailed a similar ban in southern Switzerland as “absolutely correct.”

There is considerable debate among Islamic scholars about whether the Koran compels Muslim women to wear the face veils or not.

“For me the burqa and niqab aren't anything to do with Islam: they are merely cultures that belong to certain traditions regions of the Muslim world,” Mouelhi Mohsen, a Milan- based Imam, told The Local.

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“Either way, people shouldn't be forced not to wear an item of clothing by anyone. These kinds of policies just help spread fear and ignorance.”

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