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European Parliamentarian Calls For Europe-Wide Burqa Ban

European parliamentarian Silvana Koch-Mehrin has called for a Europe-wide ban on the burqa because covering women, as she said, "openly supports values that we do not share in Europe."

Koch-Mehrin is the head of Germany's Free Democrats in the European Parliament, and her comments -- published today in the Berlin weekly "Bild am Sonntag" -- come after Belgium on April 29 voted for a ban of the garment on security grounds.

The law now goes to Belgium's upper house for a final vote.

In a separate development today, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that he expects criticism if France bans the burqa, as has been proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The French government is set to approve draft legislation on May 19 for debate in parliament. Koucher said he expects particular criticism from Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey.

compiled from agency reports