A northern region of Italy has amended legislation and approved a ban on wearing burqas and Islamic veils in hospitals and local government buildings, following terror attacks in Europe.
The new regulation in Lombardy, which comes into force on the first day of the New Year, marks the first time an Italian region has explicitly outlawed Islamic face coverings. Existing law in the country, dating from the 1970s, already forbids clothing that makes identification difficult in public places.
Lombardy governor Roberto Maroni, from Italy’s right-wing Northern League Party, told Il Fatto Quotidiano: “We have updated the law and now nobody with a covered face will be allowed to enter [public offices and hospitals].”
Simona Bordonali, head of security, civil protection and immigration in the region added that "serious terror attacks" in recent months had forced the region to introduce stricter security measures.
He said: “Whoever wants to enter a hospital in Lombardy must be recognisable and present themselves uncovered…The burqa [and the] niqab are therefore banned.”
But the decision in Italy’s wealthiest region has been criticised by Andrea Orlando, the country’s justice minister, who said: "Right now the last thing we need is to wave symbols about and make propaganda - a domain in which the Islamist extremists are unbeatable.”
Other leaders of Italian regions made it clear to Il Fatto Quotidiano that they would not be imitating the decision in Lombardy.