A region in Italy has announced a plan to ban Islamic veils from public institutions and hospitals to "defend women's freedom."
The ban, in the coastal region of Liguria, has been put forward by local president Giovanni Toti and Sonia Viale, of the far-right Northern League party.
Toti is quoted by The Local as saying the burqa is "the worst symbol of the oppression of women. Those who live in Italy need to grasp and respect at least the minimum rules of equality between men and women."
Northern League leader Matteo Salvini has also praised the region for the propsal, in the middle of what he said was a "flood of useless chatter that accompanies Women's Day."
Politicians will vote on the ban on Friday (March 10), but several members of other parties have criticised the proposal, calling it discriminatory and possibly anti-constitutional.
The leader of Liguria's Democratic Party Raffaella Paita said the ban would "create tensions," adding: "A serious regional council would open a dialogue with these communities. And if a woman turns up to the emergency room wearing a burqa, what is the doctor meant to do, tell her to go elsewhere?"