After France, Belgium is only the second country to introduce a general burqa ban. Those not abiding by the law, risk 7 days behind bars and a fine of 137,50 euros.
According to estimations, some 270 women in Belgium are wearing either a burqa, which covers the face completely (big photo), or a niqab, which leaves the eyes visible (small photo). Analysts say that for that reason, the new law has a strong symbolic value more than any anything else.
A number of municipalities already introduced local regulations to ban clothes covering the face. This led to a number of fines, but in most cases offenders took the matter to court afterwards to escape the fine.