Italy's equal opportunities minister Mara Carfagna calls for burqa ban
An Italian government minister who made her name by taking her clothes off for men's magazines has called for a ban on the all-enveloping burqa.
By Nick Squires in
The Telegraph (U.K.), October 13, 2009
Rome — Mara Carfagna, 33, the equal opportunities minister, is the best known example of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's penchant for elevating glamorous young women into the world of politics.
But now Miss Carfagna has said the burqa, the loose outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions, and the niqab, or face veil, should be banned in Italy because they are 'symbols of the submission of women'.
The former Miss Italy contestant said the veils were also an impediment to Muslim women integrating into Italian society.
'I am absolutely in favour of a law which bans the burqa and the niqab, which I consider symbols of the submission of women and an obstacle to social integration,' she said.
'We need to make sure that women who come to Italy know that here, women have equal rights and equal dignity with men. There is no room for traditions, mentalities and religions where women are treated as inferiors,' she added.
Last week the anti-immigration Northern League, an important partner in Mr Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom government, presented a bill which would prohibit the wearing of the burqa.
The bill would amend a 1975 law, introduced amid fears of home-grown terrorism, which punishes with hefty fines and up to two years in jail people who cover their faces with anything preventing their identification by police.
Until now an exception has been made for the wearing of the Muslim veil on the grounds of religious freedom.
The Northern League said it wanted the law changed so that it included Italy's burgeoning population of 1.2 million Muslim immigrants.
The League cited the fact that one of Egypt's leading Sunni clerics recently issued a religious edict saying that wearing a burqa or niqab was not an obligation for women under Islam.