Latvia's Culture Minister - wrong to deny women the burqa

  • 2015-08-18
  • BNS/TBT Staff/RIGA

According to Latvia’s Culture Minister, Dace Melbarde, it would be wrong to deny Muslim women the right to wear the burqa. 

Speaking to the LNT TV channel on August 17, 2015, she said a discussing about allowing it disallowing the burqa in Latvia is necessary, in order to prevent a negative public response to Muslim refugees who arrive to Latvia. 

Melbarde said should a woman be forced to wear the burqa, she should be free to decide whether to wear it. However, if she is wearing it on her own free will, then Latvia does not have the right to prevent her from doing so. 

Speaking to the Latvian press last week, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis said he would support a ban on the burqa. 

The movement to ban the burqa in Latvia was initiated by Ombudsman, Juris Jansons.

However, the movement to ban the garment started in Estonia, after the country’s minister for social protection, Margus Tsahkna, argued the ban should be imposed for national security reasons, and people should be identifiable. 

Tsahkna, also the chairman of the junior coalition party, Pro Patria and Respublica Union, believes a decision surrounding the ban should be made now, meaning refugees affected by the Mediterranean Crisis arriving to Estonia, would know the rules in advance. 

Estonia will take in a quota of 150 refugees as part of the European Commission’s resettlement program. 

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