Bulgarian lawmakers OK law banning women from wearing veils

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Bulgaria's Parliament has approved a law banning women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public.

The law was pushed by the nationalist Patriotic Front coalition, whose co-leader Krasimir Karakachanov on Friday cited security reasons for it, saying "the burqa is more a uniform than a religious symbol."

The law was opposed by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the third-largest party in Parliament, which has a substantial Muslim electorate. In protest, the group walked out of Parliament.

Women who violate the ban face fines of up to 770 euros ($860), as well as a suspension of social benefits.

Bulgaria, a Balkan country of 7.2 million people, has a Muslim minority of about 10 percent.

Similar bans have been approved in other EU countries such as France, Netherlands and Belgium.