Muslim woman breaks police officer's nose, Police station surrounded

There was trouble in the Brussels municipality of Sint-Jans Molenbeek on Thursday after a woman wearing a niqab was detained by police. A niqab is a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. The niqab covers all of the face except the eyes and is part of the sartorial hijab. The wearing of the niqab (and the burqa) in public is forbidden in Belgium.

The niqab-wearer was asked to produce proof of identity by police in the neighbouring municipality of Jette on Thursday afternoon.

She refused to remove her niqab and was taken to a Molenbeek police station for questioning. At the police station the woman injured a female police officer by head-butting her.

The policewoman had been trying to frisk the woman. She sustained a broken nose and lost two-teeth in the attack. Another policewoman also sustained slight injuries in the attack.

The woman, a Belgian convert to Islam, is well-known to police. She has often been the subject of identity checks and always refuses to remove her niqab.

She was also injured in the fracas and was taken to hospital with slight concussion.

News of the incident spread quickly and soon the police station was surrounded by around 100 youths.

The Brussels West Police Services called in re-enforcements from the Federal Police and other Brussels police forces to contain the situation.