Corinne De Permentier burka Belgian Federal parliament

MR party member Corinne De Permentier (top) during the vote against the wearing of the burka at the Belgian Federal parliament in Brussels on April 29, 2010. Photo: AFP/ Getty Images

Belgium 1, burqas 0.

Yesterday a bill to ban women from wearing burqa headveils in public passed almost unaminously in Belgium's parliament, making it the first European country to take legal action against the controversial Islamic garment, the Daily Mail reports.

Though the bill faces final approval from the country's senate, it could become law in July and would, as we've previously reported, mean fines and jail time for women caught wearing the veils in public, according to the paper.

Belgium politicians reportedly security concerns as the reason for the ban, as burqas conceal the face and make identification difficult. The law also applies to other garments that obscure the face.

"The notion of recognizing people in the street is essential to maintain public order," Centre-Right MP Daniel Bacquealaine told the paper.

"It's also a question of human dignity. The full face veil turns a woman into a walking prison."

Women caught violating the ban in public places such as hospitals, shops and schools will reportedly face a 15-25 euro fine for the first offense, and a week-long jail term if they fail to pay or are busted a second time.

Belgium -- which saw its prime minister, Yves Leterme, resign weeks ago in the midst of an earlier vote on the burqa -- isn't the only country taking action against the veil.

As we've reported previously, France is also considering a burqa ban.

But not everyone is applauding this move.

According to Sky News, Amnesty International has decried the ban, saying, "A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or the niqab."

"Today it's the full-face veil, tomorrow the veil, the day after it will be Sikh turbans and then perhaps it will be mini-skirts," added Isabelle Praile, vice-president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium.

What do you think? Do you think safety concerns trump individual freedom? Or is it a step too far? Take the poll, and leave a comment.

Meanwhile, read about Iran's crackdown on suntanned women.