Italy: Tunisian woman fined for wearing veil

A 26-year-old Tunisian woman has been fined for wearing a face veil while walking to a mosque in northern Italy, stoking an increasing debate on the integration of Muslim minorities in Europe.

Police in the city of Novara, a stronghold of Italy’s anti-immigration Northern League, stopped the Muslim woman on Friday while she was walking with her husband to prayers wearing a black niqab that covered her face but left her eyes exposed.

Police handed her a 500-euro fine under a bylaw introduced in January by the mayor of Novara which bans clothing in public that prevents identification by police.

“We just enforced a local law that stops people from covering their face near sensitive places like schools, hospitals or post offices,” inspector Leonardo Borghesani told Reuters. “We understand the fine is hefty, but she can appeal.”

The Northern League, a coalition ally of conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is pushing for legislation to outlaw face-covering Islamic garments in public.

Reuters, 4 May 2010

See also CNN, 4 May 2010