The niqab is illegal in Belgium (as it is in France): adult Muslim women may not, of their own free will, cover their faces in public. In the words of the liberal MP who proposed the ban in Belgium: “Wearing the burqa in public is not compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society.”
Usually, the law is applied this way: there is a quick check of the ID and a lifting of the face veil long enough to identify the wearer. There is a caution, or a fine. But in this case, the police insisted that the woman remove the veil completely before she could be let go. She refused. She was arrested, taken to a police station, stripped (her clothing, down to the underwear, removed with scissors), and beaten by male and female officers. She fought back, headbutting one of the officers. She was beaten further, by the agents of the open, liberal, tolerant society. The woman got a concussion, and was taken to hospital.
Teju Cole has a new blog for The New Inquiry. From his second entry:
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