A woman under her burqa in Kabul. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

A Republican state lawmaker in Georgia has abandoned a bill that would have effectively banned Muslim women from wearing burqas, niqabs or other veils that cover their faces in public.

State Rep. Jason Spencer on Tuesday pre-filed House Bill 3, which, among other things, would have  added language explicitly referring to women in a state anti-masking law initially aimed at men in the Ku Klux Klan. If the bill had passed during the 2017 legislative session, it could have prevented Muslim women from wearing religious garb in public places in Georgia — a possibility that alarmed Muslim advocates.

The proposed bill would have also banned men and women from wearing clothing that conceals their faces when posing for their drivers’ license photos or while driving on state roadways.

The bill did not specifically mention Muslim women, burqas or niqabs, and Spencer insisted he had “no intention of targeting a specific group.” But officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group, said its purpose was pretty apparent.

“We suspect it’s motivated by a desire to discriminate against Georgia Muslims,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director for CAIR-Georgia.

Mitchell, an attorney, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that “in this climate of anti-Muslim bigotry,” a bill that seems to target people of faith could create serious issues. “The bill is a bad solution to a nonexistent problem,” he said.

On Thursday evening, just two days after pre-filing the bill, Spencer announced that he was abandoning it because of the blowback.

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