PACE Resolution Opposes General Bans on the Full Veil for Women

23 June 2010 – Strasbourg
Rainer Bless

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has said that there should be no general prohibition on wearing the burqa and the niqab or other religious clothing, although legal restrictions may be justified “for security purposes, or where the public or professional functions of individuals require their religious neutrality, or that their face can be seen.” The unanimously adopted resolution said the veiling of women is often perceived as “a symbol of the subjugation of women to men” but a general ban would deny women “who genuinely and freely desire to do so” their right to cover their face. The Parliamentary Assembly also added that European governments should also seek to educate Muslim women on their rights, as well as their families and communities, and encourage them to take part in public and professional life, and also called on Switzerland to repeal as soon as possible its general ban on the construction of minarets, which it described as discriminatory.