Dutch par­lia­ment ap­proves par­tial burqa ban

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

AM­S­TER­DAM: The Nether­lands ap­proved a law ban­ning burqas in gov­ern­ment build­ings on Tues­day, af­ter a clear ma­jor­ity voted in favour of the de­ci­sion in the lower house of the Dutch par­lia­ment in the Hague.

The ban for­bids the wear­ing of full-body burqas and niqabs – which cover a woman’s face – in hos­pi­tals, schools, gov­ern­ment build­ings and on pub­lic trans­port.

The law makes the Nether­lands the fourth Euro­pean coun­try to ban the burqa af­ter France, Bel­gium and Bul­garia.

Dutch in­te­rior min­is­ter Ron­ald Plasterk said in par­lia­ment that face cov­er­ings such as burqas and niqabs re­stricted com­mu­ni­ca­tion in gov­ern­ment build­ings where it was “cru­cial, that peo­ple can look at each other”.

A breach of the ban would in­cur a fine of up to 400 (RM1,900).

Un­der the new reg­u­la­tion, women will still be al­lowed to wear burqas on streets and in pub­lic parks.

Mus­lim women protested against the law in the Dutch par­lia­ment last week say­ing it re­stricted re­li­gious free­dom.

“This af­fects my abil­ity to be how I want to be,” niqab wearer Karima Rah­mani said.

Some schools, uni­ver­si­ties and doc­tors also spoke against the planned ban.

Right-wing po­lit­i­can Geert Wilders first pro­posed a burqa re­stric­tion in the Nether­lands 11 years ago.

Although it was ini­tially ap­proved by the par­lia­ment, the reg­u­la­tion didn’t be­come law due to a se­ries of gov­ern­men­tal crises.

Four years ago the ban was again pro­posed by the grand coali­tion.

The cur­rent reg­u­la­tion still needs to be ap­proved by the up­per cham­ber of the Dutch par­lia­ment, which is ex­pected, be­fore it be­comes law.

Around 100 Mus­lim women wear burqas in the Nether­lands, out of a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of 17 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment es­ti­mates. – dpa

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