SOFIA: Bulgaria banned on Friday face-covering Islamic veils in public, joining a small number of EU countries as debate rages across Europe about religious freedoms. Parliament approved the law that “bans wearing in public clothing that partially or completely covers the face,” referring to the burqa or the more common niqab. Infringements carry fines of 200 leva (103 euros, $114), rising to 1,500 leva for repeated offences. Bulgaria’s mostly centuries-old Muslim community, dating back to conversions during Ottoman times, makes up around 13 percent of the population, mostly in the Turkish minority. Muslim women in Bulgaria have generally worn just a simple scarf to cover their hair. But recently there has been a small rise in the number of women wearing the niqab among ultra-conservative Muslim communities of the Roma minority. The often impoverished and marginalized Roma make up just under 10 percent of Bulgaria’s population, around a third of whom are Muslim.