An Italian parliamentary commission approved a draft law on Tuesday which would ban women from wearing the veils that cover their faces in public, if passed by parliament in September.
The draft law would forbid women from wearing a burqa, but also prohibit anyone from covering their faces with a motorcycle helmet or any material of "ethnic origins".
Sponsored by Souad Sbai, a Moroccan-born member of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling People of Freedom Party (PDL), the draft was adopted on the back of support from the government's coalition party, the Northern League.
The other parliamentary groups for the most part abstained from the vote, while the main opposition Democratic Party (PD) voted against the draft.
Those who breached the law would be fined, with heavy penalties — 30,000 euros ($42,000) and up to 12 months in jail — for third parties who force women to cover their faces in public.
Sbai said she hoped the draft would defend "women without rights who are forced into segregation."
"In France, Belgium and even Muslim Azerbaijan, this law has become reality without any Arabic or Muslim women protesting, which just goes to show how much it is expected," she claimed.
It is rare to see women wearing burqas in the streets of Italy.
The draft will be ruled on by parliament in the autumn.
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