Lombardy to ban burqa, niqab in hospitals, offices

Northern League to ban Islamic veils in public offices.

The Lombardy regional administration has announced a forthcoming ban on Islamic scarves covering the face.

Regional councillor for security, Simona Bordonali of the Northern League, said the rules for admission to hospitals and regional administration offices would be revised to forbid access to women wearing niqabs or burqas.

The niqab (centre above) is a veil which covers the face, leaving the eyes free. A burqa (right) is a veil covering the whole body from head to toe, with a mesh in front. On the left is the chador.

Bordonali reminded colleagues that there is a national law forbidding people to appear masked in public spaces.

From the opposition, PD councillor Sara Valmaggi objected that, although not a supporter of niqabs or burqas, banning people from receiving medical care or visiting their own children in hospital was going too far.

But Bordonali insisted that Lombardy is the Italian region most vulnerable to Islamist attacks. She encouraged the Muslim community to choose a “single and credible” representative to sign accords with the state. Such an accord, she continued, should “recognise gender equality, guarantee that women do not wear niqabs or burqas or be subjected to genital mutilation or polygamy, reject any justification for terrorism and accept the presence of Catholic symbols in public buildings.”

Her remarks came only a few days after a rumour – later proved false – that a school in Milan province was going to cancel a children’s Christmas party in favour of a non-religious “Winter party” in January, in order not to offend parents of other faiths.