The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a Belgian ban on wearing the full-face niqab veil in public.
The court ruled that the restriction sought to guarantee social cohesion, the ‘protection of the rights and freedoms of others’ and that it was ‘necessary in a democratic society’.
Belgium banned the wearing of the full-face veil under a June 2011 law. It prohibits appearing in public ‘with a face masked or hidden, in whole or in part, in such a way as to be unidentifiable’.
Violations can result in fines and up to seven days in jail.
France was the first European country to ban the niqab in April 2011.
The European Court of Human Rights had already ruled on a challenge to the French law in 2014 when it also rejected arguments that the restriction breached religious freedom and individual human rights.