EU human rights watchdog criticizes laws banning the wearing of Muslim headscarves

July 21, 2011


The European Union’s human rights watchdog has criticized laws banning the wearing of Muslim veil, warning that the legislation fuels anti-Muslim sentiments across the continent.

“[These laws] would further stigmatize these women and lead to their alienation from the majority society,” Thomas Hammarberg, Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, said in statements on the council’s website on July 20.

Belgium will become the latest European country to ban the face-veil after a law banning the outfit takes into effect on Saturday, July 23. According to the new law, Muslim women would not be allowed to go in public while donning full face veil. If any woman failed to comply with the law, she will be punished with a penalty of 137.50 Euros and up to seven days in jail.


Hammarberg warned that banning the Muslim dress violates European human rights standards.

Such bans “may run counter to European human-rights standards, in particular the right to respect for one’s private life and personal identity,” he said.