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Minister proposes banning burqas in Estonia

Social Protection Minister Margus Tsahkna has asked Urmas Reinsalu, the justice minister, to analyze possible problems from the inflow of asylum seekers. Tsahkna also proposed banning clothes which cover the face, such as burqas.

The majority of asylum seekers coming to Estonia will be from predominately Muslim nation and there is a chance some immigrants will want to observe strict religious rules, including clothing, Eesti Päevaleht reported.

“We have become accustomed to be able to identify people in public space,” Tsahkna said.

Tsahkna said Estonia is learning from the experience of other EU members, which have faced similar problems, but have had to deal with them after immigrants have already arrived and settled in.

A burqa is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions, but not all, to cover their bodies when in public.

It has caused debate across Europe before. In 2010, both France and Belgium banned wearing the burqa in public, and the Netherlands did the same this year. The United Kingdom has not taken an offical stance yet and the wearing is allowed, although a poll in 2011 indicated that 66 percent of British people supported banning the burqa in all public places.

Editor: J.M. Laats, S. Tambur

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