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Italian Parliament Commission Approves Burqa Ban

ROME -- An Italian parliamentary commission on Tuesday approved a draft law banning women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public.

The draft passed by the constitutional affairs commission would prohibit women from wearing a burqa, naqib or any other garb that covers the face in such circumstances.

Third parties who force women to cover their faces in public would be fined $43,000 and face up to 12 months in jail, the news agency ANSA said.

Italy is the latest European country to act against the burqa. France and Belgium have banned the wearing of burqa-style Islamic dress in public, as has a city in Spain.

The law was sponsored by Souad Sbai, a Moroccan-born member of Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative Freedom People party.

ANSA said the main opposition party voted against the law.

The draft will be forwarded to parliament after the summer recess.

The preliminary approval was welcomed by lawmaker Barbara Saltamartini, vice president of the Freedom People party caucus in the lower house.

"Final approval will put an end to the suffering of many women who are often forced to wear the burqa or niqab, which annihilates their dignity and gets in the way of integration," Saltamartini said in a statement.