Vatican Official: Immigrants Must Follow Local Laws, Including Bans on Veils Covering Face

November 14, 2006

Source: The Detroit News

Wire Service: AP

Immigrants must follow local laws, including bans on veils covering the face, a Vatican cardinal said Tuesday, referring to debates in Europe about Muslim women and integration.

Immigrants from other religions "must respect the traditions, the symbols, the culture, the religion of the countries they go to," said Italian prelate Renato Martino, who heads the Vatican's office on issues about migrants, itinerant workers and refugees.

"This seems to me to be elementary," Martino told a news conference. "It is quite right that (local) authorities insist on this."

Britain is seeing heated debate over veils worn by some Muslim women, raising questions about minority groups' integration in Europe. Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw started the argument by announcing he had asked women to remove the coverings from their face when they come to his district office.