Dutch parliament votes to ban the face veil in public places
The Dutch parliament voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of a ban on women wearing face veils in public places. The vote passed with 132 of the 150 MPs in the Netherlands favoring the proposal, which would mean that women will no longer be able to wear the burqa or niqab in places such as government offices, schools, and on public transportation. The Dutch cabinet said it supported the move because of the “necessity to be able to interact face-to-face” in places where safety is paramount, like at airports. The bill will go now before the senate before it becomes law.
The proposal would also outlaw other face coverings such as ski masks and balaclavas, but it is the face veil worn by Muslim women that the measure primarily targets. Lawmakers in the Netherlands previously tried to pass a similar ban but were defeated as a clause to make it illegal to wear them on the street was deemed to be too hard-line.
The number of Dutch women who wear face veils affected by the ban is quite small – the BBC estimates 100-400. Despite this, the penalty for flouting the ruling will be expensive. Anyone caught will be fined about $541.
Tunahan Kuzu, one of the few MPs to oppose the bill, argue: “It is reprehensible to exclude these women and isolate them because of a subject anxiety among certain citizens,” the Telegraph reported.
But far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders welcomed the ruling, which his party (the PVV) supported. In fact, he thought it did not go far enough:
Today the Dutch parliament approved a partial burka ban.
After the elections next March I will implement a full burka ban.#deislamize
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) November 29, 2016
The Netherlands will hold a general election in May, and the most recent polling puts Wilders and his party firmly ahead. Wilders has repeatedly spoken out against Islam, and is currently awaiting the verdict in a court case where he was charged with inciting hatred. The trial came after Wilders publicly called for less Moroccan immigration to the Netherlands.
The Dutch politician is also a strong supporter of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, even going as far to steal his slogan:
And after the Dutch elections on March 15, 2017
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) November 6, 2016