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Liga Legzdina, a native Latvian who converted to Islam, on a bus in a suburb of Riga, Latvia. (Reinis Hofmanis/The New York Times)

“Preventive measure”

Latvia looking to ban niqabs … for maybe 3 women wearing them

April 20, 2016

Latvia, a small Baltic nation of less than two million people, is looking to do what a few other European countries (most notably, France) have done in recent years: ban the face-covering veil. The difference, however is that Latvia counts about 1,000 practicing Muslims, and it is usually estimated that there are just three women who actually wear the niqab. The country’s Justice Minister, Dzintars Rasnacs claimed the law is a “preventive measure,” as he is responding to “security concerns” and the law would help to ensure immigrants respect his homogenous country’s norms. “We do not only protect Latvian cultural-historical values,” he told the New York Times, “but the cultural-historical values of Europe.” Rasnacs predicted that the proposed law — which would not include a headdress that does not cover the face (such as the much more common hijab) — would easily pass Parliament and go into effect by the beginning of 2017. The law plays into broader fears in Latvia and other Central and Eastern European countries about Muslim migration caused by the ongoing refugee crisis.

Read the full story at The New York Times.