24 May 2016

Why is Bulgaria making a big fuss about the niqab?

Bulgaria is set to become the latest EU country to ban the niqab, or face veil, after the right-wing coalition party, Patriotic Front, submitted a bill to parliament as a "pre-emptive measure".

Belgium, France and Latvia have already done so but Bulgaria's example stems from the small, southern city of Pazardjik, which has just imposed its own "burka ban", as local media dubbed it. The burka, which covers the eyes, has never been seen in Bulgaria.

The face veil is not considered traditional dress for Bulgaria's Muslims, who make up 10% of the country's 7.1 million population.

The vast majority are indigenous communities of ethnic Turks, Roma and Pomaks (Bulgarian-speaking Muslims). In fact, women who have been spotted wearing it in the past two to three years are almost all members of a small Salafist, Roma community in Pazardjik. [BBC] Read more