We’re sure you’re aware there are several European countries where women are forbidden from wearing a full-face veil.
However the cost of refusing to comply with local laws can be significant, as one woman recently discovered.
An Albanian-Muslim woman has been fined €30,000 (Dhs120,000), plus €600 in costs, for refusing to remove her niqab at a town hall meeting in Italy.
The 40-year-old, who has not been named, was attending a youth parliament meeting with her son in San Vito al Tagliamento, in the country’s north-east.
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She was requested to lift her veil for an identity check by the town’s mayor, but she refused.
Italy does not have a national ban on the wearing of burqas – except in the town of Novara, which outlawed the full-face veil in 2010 though there’s no penalty enforced.
However the country does have a law forbidding people from covering their face in a way that conceals their identity without “justification”, according to local newspaper Messaggero Veneto.
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The woman – who has lived in the country for 16 years and is an Italian citizen – was charged with concealing her identity, and initially sentenced to four months in jail and a €600 penalty, the paper said.
However that was this week overturned to the hefty sum of €30,000 by a higher court after she appealed.
Her lawyer says they will now appeal again, as the wearing of a niqab for religious reasons should be considered justifiable.
The European backlash against traditional dress
France was the first country in the continent to ban the burqa in public.
A clampdown on students in state-run schools began in 2004, and the law came into full effect in April 2011. Anyone caught wearing the burqa or niqab is fined €150 (Dhs600).
The country also cracked down on burkinis this year, banning the modest swimwear from some French beaches, including popular tourist destinations Nice and Cannes.
Countries including Belgium, Bulgaria, and parts of Switzerland followed suit and banned the burqa, although the controversial laws have sparked many protests.
One businessman, Algerian Rachid Nekkaz, has set up a “freedom defence fund” in 2010 to help pay the fines of women who choose to continue wearing the niqab in forbidden countries.
He has so far paid out more than £200,000 (Dhs921,000) in fines and legal fees levied on Muslim women who defied the ban in France.
“As soon as I see that France is not respecting fundamental liberties, I always get my cheque book out,” he said in an interview with the Telegraph.