Headscarf ban lifted in Belgian courts

A new regulation in Belgium has ended the ban on headscarves in courtrooms.

The Belgian government amended Article 759 of the penal code, which prohibits the wearing of headscarves in the courts, at the warning of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

A Muslim woman has appealed to the European Court Of Human Rights (ECHR) for not taking off her headscarf in 2018. VIOLATION OF FREEDOM OF BELIEF

The court in Strasbourg convicted Belgium of “violating freedom of belief.” Following this decision, a circular was sent to the courts pointing to the ECHR decision on this issue.

Some judges allowed headscarves to be worn in the courtroom in accordance with the ECHR decision, while others continued to enforce the ban.

According to the Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunity (UNIA), complaints have continued to come in from Muslim women, mostly wearing headscarves.

UNIA director Els Keytsman said in a statement that some women took off their headscarves in courtrooms for fear it would affect the court’s final decision.

Describing it as “intolerable,” the Belgian official said the UNIA continued to remind the government of the warning of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers about making the necessary legal changes.

Following these warnings, the Belgian government amended Article 759 of the penal code from the 19th century.

The law, drafted during the period when everyone wore hats, stipulated that those who were supposed to appear before the court should do so “with their heads open, respectfully and in silence”.

Kelstman, director of the Center for Equal Opportunity, said, “The law change has finally been made. We welcome this progress in the field of human rights.”

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