ROME – Swimming against the anti-hijab tide in the West, Italian interior minister Giuliano Amato on Thursday, September 27, rejected calls for banning the Muslim veil in public places. “If we are going to ban the veil in public places, it immediately begs the question: why should a nun be allowed to wear her habit and not a female Muslim,” he told newspaper La Stampa, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP). Hijab has been thrust into the limelight since the 2004 French ban on the Muslim headscarf at public schools and institutions. Several European countries have followed the French lead. The minister said that the Italian constitution guaranteed freedom of religion. Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.