Dutch MPs ap­prove ban on wear­ing burqa in pub­lic


THE HAGUE: Dutch MPs on Tues­day voted by a large ma­jor­ity to ap­prove a ban on wear­ing the Is­lamic full-face burqa in some pub­lic places such as schools and hos­pi­tals.

“The law is adopted,” said the speaker of the Dutch Lower House of Par­lia­ment, Khadija Arib, re­fer­ring to the move which would also ban burqas from pub­lic trans­port.

The mo­tion was ap­proved by a ma­jor­ity of 132 out of the 150- seat house in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Mark Rutte’s rul­ing Lib­eral- Labour coali­tion.

The leg­is­la­tion must now go be­fore the Se­nate for ap­proval be­fore be­com­ing law. It fol­lows sim­i­lar bans im­posed in France and Bel­gium.

The Dutch cabi­net had ap­proved the plan in mid-2015. But it de­cided not to go as afar as ban­ning wear­ing burqas on the street.

The Dutch gov­ern­ment said it de­cided to back the leg­is­la­tion due to a “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 sees no need to im­pose the ban on all pub­lic spa­ces,” it added.

Wear­ing safety equip­ment like hel­mets or full-face pro­tec­tion while work­ing, play­ing sport or “dur­ing a fes­tive or cul­tural event” is ex­cluded from the ban.

Those flout­ing the ban would face a fine of up to 410 eu­ros (around $430).

Pub­lic news­caster NOS said only be­tween 100 to 500 women in The Nether­lands wear the burqa, most of them oc­ca­sion­ally.

The Dutch gov­ern­ment’s ad­vi­sory State Coun­cil body had how­ever 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.

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