Woman fined for wearing burqa in Novara, Italy

Italian police fined a Muslim woman for wearing a full Islamic veil in a street in the northern city of Novara, possibly the first such incident in Italy, city officials said.

"City police ticketed her last night and she will have to pay a €500 ($712) fine,'' Mauro Franzinelli of the Novara municipal police told AFP.

"As far as I know this is a first in Italy," he said adding that the woman could appeal.

Novara, in Italy's northeastern Piedmont region, is a stronghold of the anti-immigration Northern League, a key party in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government.

The woman, a Tunisian national, was stopped by police officers outside a post office in the company of her husband. When her husband refused to have her identified by male officers they called in a patrol comprising a woman officer.

"City hall adopted a decree in late January banning the burqa in public places and their vicinity, which is based on a commentary by the interior ministry who received a copy of the draft," said Mauro Franzinelli, who is also a local Northern League official.

Covering one's face - with a veil or a motorcycle helmet - in public has been banned in Italy since 1975.

(Published by Herald Sun - May 4, 2010)

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