Erik is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Erik is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The judge ruled that the burqa ban does not violate private and family rights.
The European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban put in force by Belgium on wearing burqas and similar Islamic clothing that covers the wearer's full face. Judges have arrived at the decision that the prohibition, effective across Belgium, does not violate family and private life rights. It also does not infringe on religious freedom. The prohibition, the judges ruled, cannot be termed discriminatory. The European court said Belgium is within its rights to put in place restrictions which ensure the country's “living together” principles and protecting the freedoms and the rights of others. It also said that such a ban was a necessity in any democratic society.

The European Court of Human Rights or ECHR dismissed two distinct cases. One of them appealed against the nationwide ban adopted by Belgium and a case on a 2008 ordinance adopted three municipalities in the country.

The case which got so much attention was Belcacemi and Oussar v. Belgium. Filed by a Moroccan and Belgian nationals who said the ban violated freedom of religion and their privacy rights. The appellants were Yamina Oussar and Samia Belcacemi. The two alleged that as Muslims who willingly wore niqabs, or full black veils which cover face everywhere except the eyes, alleged he concerned Belgian law stopped them from expressing their own personal religious convictions.

The complaints described how the law kept one woman at home, as she was afraid of being harassed by the public if she goes outside. The other woman was forced to remove her veil when she went out onto the street.

Fouzia Dakir, another Belgian national, appealed the second case against full face veils prohibition. This ban was implemented in Verviers, Pepinster, and Dison about three years prior to the nationally applicable law. She offered the argument that the move violated her right for choosing a garment. She claimed that she was entitled to wearing the piece of clothing as per European Convention on Human Rights, and with no “legitimate aim”.

The court ruled that there are no instances of rights violation when it came to her private life, discriminatory laws or freedom of religion. It noted, however, that Belgium had violated her rightful access to courts when the initial application to annul such a ban was termed inadmissible bu Conseil d'Etat. The judges thus ordered the Government of Belgium to pay Dakir eight hundred euros to cover her legal expenses. 

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