Dutch parliament approves partial burqa ban
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