In the Indonesian Aceh province, women are required to wear the hijab and all women are required to do so in Iran. France has banned overt religious symbols, including many religious head coverings, in public schools and universities or government buildings. Islamic dress, notably the variety of headdresses worn by Muslim women, has become a prominent symbol of the presence of Islam in western Europe. Other countries are debating similar legislation, or have more limited prohibitions. Although the Balkans and Eastern Europe have indigenous Muslim populations, most Muslims in western Europe are members of immigrant communities. The issue of Islamic dress is linked with issues of immigration and the position of Islam in Western Europe. European Commissioner Franco Frattini said in November 2006, that he did not favour a ban on the burqa.
Islamic dress is also seen as a symbol of the existence of parallel societies, and the failure of integration: in 2006 British Prime Minister Tony Blair described the face veil as a “mark of separation”. In France and Turkey, the emphasis is on the secular nature of the state, and the symbolic nature of the Islamic dress. This argument has featured prominently in judgments in Britain and the Netherlands, after students or teachers were banned from wearing face-covering clothing. Public and political response to such prohibition proposals is complex, since by definition they mean that the government decides on individual clothing.