(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - A Belgian law banning women from wearing burqas in public has come into force, making Belgium the second European Union nation after France to implement discriminatory laws against Muslims.
The law was initially passed by a vote of 136 to 1 with two abstentions in the lower house of the Belgian parliament in April 2010.
Based on the legislation, any woman who fails to comply with the law in Belgium will be punished with a penalty of EUR 137.50 and up to seven days behind bars as a punishment, the state-funded BBC reported.
Meanwhile, two women who wear full veils launched an immediate court challenge, saying the law is against human rights.
"We consider the law a disproportionate intrusion into fundamental rights such as the freedom of religion and expression," Ines Wouters, the lawyer of the two women challenging the ban, told the Belgian newspaper La Libre.
Belgian Muslims see the measure as discriminatory, and describe it as a violation of their personal and religious freedom.
They say the law will exclude the women from society and will force them to stay in their homes.
The number of Belgian Muslims is estimated at 450,000 in total population of about 10 million in the European country.
However, a very small portion of the country's hundreds of thousands of Muslims wear the full body veil in public.
Earlier this week, the European Union's human rights watchdog criticized the approval of the law warning that the legislation fuels anti-Muslim sentiments across the continent.