BRUSSELS - Belgian right-wingers have offered a bounty of 250 euros for anyone who reports a niqab-clad Muslim woman to police, a move that drew mixed reactions in the European country.
"It's a textile prison for the women who have to live under it," Filip Dewinter, a senior figure within Vlaams Belang, a right-wing party, told Reuters.
The bounty came a week after clashes at a Brussels police station after a Muslim woman was arrested for refusing to take off her face-veil (niqab or burqa).
Police in Brussels have dismissed the bounty, but said they remain obliged to enforce the law on banning the face-veil.
"When someone is breaking the law we always have to intervene, demonstrations or no, the niqab is prohibited," a police spokesman told Reuters.
Women in Belgium risk a maximum fine of 150 euros if they wear a full face veil in public. Belgium and France both banned the wearing of full veils in public last year.
Belgium banned the wearing of face-veil in public places last year.
If any woman failed to comply with the law, she will be punished with a penalty of 137.50 euros ($195) and up to seven days behind bars in jail as a punishment.
Belgian Muslims are estimated at 450,000 - out of a 10-million-population - about half of them are from Moroccan origin, while 120,000 are from Turkish origin.
Yet, a very small portion estimated to 200 to 300 of the country's hundreds of thousands of Muslims wear the face veil in public.
While hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that a woman is not obliged to wear the face veil.
Scholars believe it is up to women to decide whether to take on the niqab or burqa, a loose outfit covering the whole body from head to toe and wore by some Muslim women.
Anger & Laugh
The niqab bounty has won mixed reactions of fury and laugh in the European country.
Everyone can do whatever they want when it comes to religious freedom and freedom of speech, a Muslim woman told Euronews.
Everyone can say whatever they want. This is freedom of speech. He is allowed to say whatever he wants. And these women can wear it, I don't mind.
A shop assistant thought the idea was distasteful.
It's not for me to denounce people like that and especially to earn money in that way.
Ramzi Zerqane, a Belgian comedian, mocked the far-right politicians over the move.
I find this proposal stupid. But Filip Dewinter is known for making only stupid proposals, he said.
The only way I can react is by giving 2,000 euros to the one who puts a burqa on Filip Dewinter.
The face-veil has been the center of fierce debate since France banned the outfit in public places last year.Following France and Belgium, several European countries, including Spain, are mulling similar moves.