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Partial ban on burqa wearing in public sees first green light in Netherlands Parliament

Wednesday, November 30th 2016 - 11:16 UTC
Full article 7 comments
Dutch Lower House passes partial ban on burka  Dutch Lower House passes partial ban on burka

Members of Parliament on Tuesday voted to ban the Islamic full-face burqa from public places in The Netherlands, such as schools, hospitals and public transport. It was the latest such move in a European country.

 “The law is adopted,” said the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Khadija Arib, referring to legislation which will ban burqas as well as face coverings with just eye-slits. Safety equipment such as helmets or full-face protection while working, playing sport or “during a festive or cultural event” is not however included in the ban.

The motion “to ban all clothing which completely covers the face” from government buildings was approved by 132 members in the 150-seat house, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte's ruling Liberal-Labour coalition. The legislation must now go before the Senate for full approval before becoming law. It follows similar bans imposed in France and Belgium, and comes amid rising tensions in Europe with Islamic communities.

The Dutch cabinet had approved the plan in mid-2015, but decided not to go as far as banning wearing burqas on the streets. It backed the legislation due to the “necessity to be able to interact face-to-face, for instance in places where public services are performed and safety must be guaranteed,” the government said.

The penalty for not complying with the new rule would be a fine of up to 410 euros.

Supporting the ban was the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) of firebrand politician Geert Wilders, who is leading opinion polls ahead of March elections. His campaign appears to have been given a boost thanks to the publicity from his trial on charges of hate speech in a Dutch court over comments he made about Moroccans living in the country.

“How do we even know there's a woman under this Islamic textile?” said PVV lawmaker Machiel de Graaf. “It might as well be a well-trained jihadist who completed his training in Raqa of course,” he said in a parliamentary debate last week.

Public newscaster NOS said only about 150 women in The Netherlands wear the burqa, most of them only occasionally. And MP Tunahan Kuzu, who vehemently fought against the draft legislation, said freedom of expression allowed people “to be who they are and dress how they want”. “It is reprehensible to exclude these women and isolate them because of a subject anxiety among certain citizens,” he said.

Several women attended last week's parliamentary debate dressed in burqas. One of them, Karima Rahmani, argued that arrangements to enable women wearing full-face Islamic dress to identify themselves were already in place. “When we go to the town hall we have to identify ourselves, as well as at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport where we have to remove it,” she said. “The obligation to identify oneself is already provided for in the law.”

The Dutch government's advisory State Council body had said it believed issues around the Islamic veil could be solved “without invoking legislation - From time-to-time there's discussion about it... but it's not really a big social problem,” it said in a letter published in mid-2015.

France introduced a ban on women wearing the burqa in 2011, or risk a 150 euro fine, resulting in some 1,500 arrests in the past five years. The European Court of Human Rights in 2014 backed the French ban, rejecting arguments that outlawing full-face veils breaches religious freedom. Belgium and some parts of Switzerland have followed France's lead and similar bans are being considered in other European countries. This summer some French towns also controversially banned burkinis, the full-body Islamic swimsuit.

 

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • Conqueror

    @Troll: “carcerable”? Not a known word. Especially in English.

    So let's all travel to the middle east, walk around in shorts (males) or shorts and bikini tops (females) swigging beer from cans and eating ham sandwiches. Teach 'em not to try bringing their 6th to 10th century ways to civilisation.

    “Argentina is looking on all fronts more sophisticated and advanced with each passing hour”. Have argies learned to use toilet paper then?

    Dec 01st, 2016 - 08:12 am +3
  • DemonTree

    @ Fidel_CasTroll
    You obviously haven't seen the Argentine-Qatar memorandum of understanding yet. ;)

    Also, they cancelled the foreign worker list idea about half a day after it was proposed, you should really find something else to harp on.

    Nov 30th, 2016 - 11:51 pm +2
  • DemonTree

    @ Fidel_CasTroll
    I remember one of your senators recently saying “How much misery can Argentina put up with by receiving poor immigrants?” and “One of Argentina's problems is the egalitarian culture, in the form of what is politically correct as depicted by the media.”

    And your human rights secretary agreed with him, and said stronger immigration controls are needed. Not to mention that you also agreed and said Argentina should immediately close its borders.

    Turns out Argentina would be right at home on your list of xenophobic countries.

    Dec 01st, 2016 - 10:49 am 0
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