Georgia bill would ban women from wearing burqas in public

Kenza Drider, wearing a niqab, drives a car on Monday, Sept. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Kenza Drider, wearing a niqab, drives a car on Monday, Sept. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

ATLANTA, GA (WCMH) — Lawmakers in Georgia have proposed a bill to ban women from wearing burqas and veils.

House Bill 3, files by Republican Jason Spencer, would amend the state’s anti-masking law. That law was passed decades ago to prevent members of the Ku Klux Klan from wearing white hoods in public.

The new bill, which would amend that law, would ban Muslim women from covering their faces while on any public property. The bill reads, in part, “For the purposes of this subsection, the phrase ‘upon any public way or property’ includes but is not limited to operating a motor vehicle upon any public street, road, or highway.”

Rep. Spencer tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the legislation isn’t meant to be an all out ban. He says it’s aimed specifically at women who want to wear burqas and veils while operating motor vehicles or while getting a photo for their driver’s license.

“Number one, you’re not a public safety risk by blocking and obstructing your vision while on the road, but also that you’re identifiable to law enforcement,” Spencer told WSB-TV. “[The bill] is simply a response to constituents that do have concerns of the rise of Islamic terrorism, and we in the state of Georgia do not want our laws used against us and to take advantage of us.”

But Democrats say the language is vague and sets a dangerous precedent. Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams went on to call the proposal “bigoted” and a “direct result of the rhetoric we heard during Donald Trump’s Islamaphobic presidential campaign.”

Lawmakers won’t get a chance to vote on the bill until their session resumes in two months.

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