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No need for EU-wide burqa ban: Commissioner

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(BRUSSELS) - The European Union sees no reason to create a law banning the use of the full Islamic veil because such decisions rest in the hands of national governments, a top European official said Monday.

"I do not see the need for a European law on the burqa," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem told a news conference when asked if a ban could one day be imposed at the EU level.

Debate is raging in Europe over whether governments should ban the full Islamic veil amid moves in France, Belgium and Spain to impose laws against the garment.

Last week Spain's upper house of parliament approved a motion calling on Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government to ban the use of face-covering Islamic veils in public.

Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said at the news conference in Brussels that laws on the burqa were "a domestic issue".

In April Belgium's lower chamber of parliament voted to ban the full Islamic veil in all public places. The Senate still has to vote on the bill before it can come into force.

In France, home to the largest Muslim community in the 27-nation EU, the cabinet has approved a draft law to ban the Muslim full-face veil from public spaces, opening the way for the text to go before parliament in July.

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