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After years of debate, Belgium's lower house of parliament voted unanimously on Thursday for a law that would ban women from wearing a full face veil in public.

The law, which must now go to the senate for approval before being enforced, bans any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer.

Once approved, women wearing the veil could be fined or sent to jail for a week.

The move is the first of its kind in Europe and has provoked a huge reaction.

The German vice-president of the European parliament called for the ban to be implemented throughout Europe.
 
So, is the move an impingement on freedom of expression? Or is the continent just protecting its values and culture?

Inside Story, with presenter Nick Clark, discusses with guests: Xavier Baeselen, a member of the Belgian parliament; Ian Traynor, the Europe editor of British newspaper The Guardian; and Abeer El Saleh, the chair of Protect Hijab, a campaign which supports freedom to wear religious dress.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Sunday, May 2, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera