A senior Belgium diplomat has reportedly been arrested for tearing off the full-face veil of a Qatari princess because it is illegal to wear it in public.
The wealthy princess was with two other women when she approached Jean-Marie Pire on a Brussels street and asked him for directions, the Daily Mail reported.
“I said ‘I don’t talk to anyone if I can’t see their face’,’ Pire, who is the Chief of Protocol for the city of Brussels and is often called upon to welcome foreign dignitaries including from the Middle East, told the court he replied.
“With this reply, I wanted to make it clear that the veil is banned in Belgium.
“Because the person asking me a question didn’t seem to hear me, I lifted her veil. I know I shouldn’t have done that, but what she did wasn’t legal either.”
The woman, who has not been named, said she suffered cuts and bruises after her earrings were violently dislodged, along with her veil.
She made an official complaint to Brussels prosecutors, who may now charge Pire with assault.
She faces a £115 fine and up to seven days in prison for wearing the veil in public.
Belgium banned women from wearing the Muslim full-face veil in December 2012 and the country’s constitutional court rejected appeals, ruling that it did not violate human rights.
Neighbouring France was the first European country to introduce the “burqa ban”, in 2011.