Monday 25 January 2010

While France may ban burqas, what about Sicily?

The findings of a French parliamentary committee chaired by the Communist MP Mr André Gerin may lead France towards the implementation of laws imposing a ban on the use of garments, as the burqa, the niqab or the chador, which are rendering difficult the recognition of the persons wearing those in public places like schools, universities, subways, trains, but not in all public spaces.

What about Sicily?

In Sicily, most of the legislation on public security is the responsibility of the Italian Republic, which has already "famously legislated" on the subject, almost 35 years ago, in the art. 5 of the Law 152 of the 1975, "Measures to protect the public security" written by the then Minister of Justice, Mr. Oronzo Reale, whose first paragraph translation in English, as it stands currently in force, may read as follow:

"Without a proper justification, it is forbidden the use of protective helmets, or of any other means that could make difficult to recognize a person in public places or in places open to the public. In any case the use of the previously mentioned means is prohibited at any demonstration or assembly taking place in public places or in places open to the public, except in those events of a sport that would require such use."

The two following paragraphs of the same article then are promising a significant punishment for the offenders:

"The offender shall be punished by imprisonment from one to two years and by a fine from 1,000 to 2,000 Euro. The offender caught in flagrante delicto may optionally be arrested."

There is also the art. 85 of the Royal Decree 773 of 1931, the "Consolidation Act of the laws on public security", more notorious with its Italian language acronym TULPS, a product of Mussolini’s dictatorship still partially in force nowadays, which actually prohibits anyone to go around with masks of any kind.

At this point it would seem peaceful to deduce that in Sicily, as in the rest of the Republic of Italy, garments such as the burqa or the niqab, which are evidently making difficult, if not impossible, to recognize the person wearing those, should already be banned.

In fact, it is not truly so, as over the years, Italian case law has tended to deem the use of the burqa or similar garments as an expression of religious or cultural nature, from which arises a possible grounds for the person who wears those to bring forward a proper justification, see in example the ruling 3076 of the sixth Section of the Council of State, from the 19th June 2008, therefore the burqa, the niqab and similar garments are usually not regarded as generally prohibited, hence remaining truly legally banned only during public demonstrations or assemblies.

In Sicily, as in the rest of the Republic of Italy, you cannot then go to a strike or to attend a football game in burqa or niqab, as no one should be able to join those events in balaclavas or helmets, but, surprisingly, it seems that you may go to an airport, as long as you would agree to take off those culturally or religiously properly justified items of garment at the time of identification!

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