Belgium is set to become the first ever country in Europe to ban the burqa being worn in public places.

The vote in Parliament for a nationwide ban on Islamic clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified was almost unanimous.

The full-face niqab and burqa worn by some Muslim women are not a mandatory requirements of Islam, but a personal choice.

People found flouting the new law could be given a fine of more than $30 or even be faced with a week in jail.

Vice president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium, Isabelle Praile, warned that the new law could be the start of a slippery slope.

"Today it's the full-face veil, tomorrow the veil, the day after it will be Sikh turbans and then perhaps it will be mini-skirts."

She went on to say that "the wearing of a full-face veil is part of the individual freedoms" protected by Belgian, European and international rights laws.

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