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The Belgian ban on the niqab does not violate fundamental rights

12 July 2017

The court added that this ban was "necessary in a democratic society" so that different groups of people could live harmoniously.

The state had responded to a practice it considered incompatible "with social communication and more generally the establishment of human relations, which were indispensable for life in society".

Belgian banned the wearing of the full-face veil under a June 2011 law.

The court rejected arguments by three Muslim women who had worn the niqab, a veil covering the face except for the eyes, that their rights to privacy and freedom of conscience had been unjustifiably infringed. Instead, it is part of the Council of Europe, a 47-member state worldwide organisation founded in 1949 with the aim of upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

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Ms Belcacemi said she initially continued to wear the veil in public but removed it over fear of being jailed or fined, while Ms Oussar said the law has forced her to stay at home.

The case in question, Belcacemi and Oussar v. Belgium, was brought by a Belgian national and a Moroccan national who said the ban violated - among other things - their rights to privacy and freedom of religion. The government had banned all "conspicuous" religious symbols, including the Muslim headscarf, from public institutions in 2004. Switzerland and Austria also now have national laws in place that prohibit the wearing of the niqab and burqua.

Two women challenged the ban, which has been in place since 2011, and their case petitioning to be able to wear a niqab made it as far as the Supreme Court.

The Belgian ban on the niqab does not violate fundamental rights