Italy’s foreign minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday voiced his opposition to the face veil. Women wearing the garment pose security issues and symbolise “a refusal to integrate” by Muslim immigrants in a host country, he said.
“Let’s ask ourselves if covering one’s face isn’t the first sign of refusal to integrate and closing oneself off . . . from the host community and its traditions,” Frattini said.
He was speaking at a conference of young publishers taking place in the Tuscan city of Florence, a day after France moved a step closer to banning the face veil.
A French parliamentary committee on Tuesday issued a report recommending a partial ban on the face veil in hospitals, schools, government offices and on public transport.
“It is the symbol of the repression of women, and . . . of extremist fundamentalism,” said French parliament speaker Bernard Accoyer upon the presentation of the report.
France’s parliamentary recommendation is expected to be followed by the drafting of a bill and a parliamentary debate on the issue of the face veil, which has sparked heated debate in many European countries.
“I would not legislate on the face veil but would tackle the issue through a wider process,” Frattini said, noting that it raised also security problems.
“When someone enters a bank or a public office veiled from head to toe, it seems logical to me there is a security issue,” he said.
Other Italian politicians have also criticised the face veil. Italy’s equal opportunities minister Mara Carfagna said it “will never be welcome” in Italy.