26 July 2016

Burqa ban sparks controversy in Bulgarian city

Pazardzhik is the first city in Bulgaria to ban the burqa. Some Muslim women will now rarely leave the house as a result. DW's Tatiana Vaksberg reports.

Sixteen-year-old Melissa Kartalova took a big risk: A few days ago she left the house in a burqa and got in her relative's car. Shortly thereafter, the police stopped the vehicle and brought Melissa to the station.

The southern Bulgarian city of Pazardzhik implemented its ban on fully concealing the body, such as with the burqa, one month ago. The move is reminiscent of a ban that had been in place under communist rule in the 1980s; it was revoked on the national level in the 1990s.

In Pazardzhik, women who now go out in public completely covered, including the full-face veil known as the niqab, risk a fine of 150 euros ($165) on the first offense and 500 euros on the second offense. That's more than an average month's salary in Bulgaria.

"The police demanded I remove the niqab," Melissa said. She had already paid the fine. Her shame was indescribable with the loud policemen looking directly at her face, she added. [Deutsche Welle] Read more