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>> As the burkini debate goes viral, restrictions on face and full body veils are firmly back in the spotlight. Since the 28th of July, some French cities have banned the burkini swimsuit. Prime Minister Manuel Valls says, beaches and other public spaces need to be protected from religious expression.
And he says, the garment's a sign of subjugation of women. France was the first European country to ban the burka and the niqāb in public in 2010, and that decision was upheld four years later by the European Court of Human Rights. But it isn't the only country to place restrictions of Muslim dress.
In Austria, there's no law on face coverings, but conservative politicians have called for a ban on full-body veils. They argue they prevent women who wear them from fully integrating themselves in the mainly Catholic community. In 2011, Belgium banned the burka and the niqāb, which covers the hair and face except for the eyes.
Since then, 60 women have been taken to court for wearing them. It's also forbidden to wear the burkini in many public swimming pools, but interestingly not at the beach. And now both the Flemish center-right party and the Liberal Party are ready to start debating banning the burkini in general.
Over in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives want a partial ban on the face veil. Women would be forced to show their faces while driving, at passport control, and in demonstrations. They also want the full veil banned in schools, in a civil service, and at court for judges and for witnesses.
A ban on the burka has been debated in the Netherlands now for more than a decade. In 2015, face covering clothing was forbidden. And that included motorcycle helmets in certain situations. Those were at school, in airports, courtrooms, and on public transports. But not at the beach or in the streets.
In Switzerland, meanwhile, the the southern canton of Ticino passed a burka ban in 2013 that went into effect earlier on this summer. And now a pressure group there is working to get a vote on a burka ban before the national electorate. Recent attacks in Belgium, France, and Germany claimed by Islamic State, have certainly sharpened this whole debate.
As well as the large influx of mainly Muslim migrants and refugees, which have been coming to the continent over recent years. #BurkiniBan creating a social media storm and fears of pitting one community against the other, only set to deepen.