December 7, 2016

NETHERLANDS: Dutch Parliament Moves Forward with Partial Ban on Face Veils

CNS News
written by Matthew Hrozencik
Wednesday November 30, 2016

The lower house of the Dutch parliament overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to approve a partial ban on wearing Islamic face veils, such as the burqa and niqab, in certain public places.

The legislation received a wide majority of votes in the chamber, with 135 of its 150 members voting in favor of the partial ban.

However, the measure must also be approved by the Dutch parliament’s upper house before it can be signed into law.

"Everyone has the right to dress as he or she wishes," the coalition government led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement in support of the legislation. “That freedom is limited only where it is essential for people to see each other, for example to ensure good service or security."

Rutte also stated in May 2015 said that a partial ban on face coverings “does not have any religious background,” but is a “necessity… in places where public services are performed and safety must be guaranteed.”

The legislation passed Tuesday would place a limited ban on wearing “face-covering clothing” in certain public places, such as hospitals, schools, public transportation, and government buildings. It would also apply to facial covering items that are non-religious, such as ski masks and helmets. Violators would face a fine of up to €405 ($430).

However, the ban would not apply to those wearing veils while walking down the street or during sports activities or cultural events.

Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders, who is currently on trial for allegedly inciting hatred against Muslims, has said he will push for a full burqa ban should his party win the general election in March.

But opponents of the legislation say that the ban violates veil-wearers’ freedom of expression and panders to anti-Islamic sentiments. "It is reprehensible to exclude these women and isolate them because of a subject anxiety among certain citizens," said MP Tunahan Kuzu, who spoke out against the legislation.

"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,” said Karima Rahmani, a woman who also opposed the legislation. "The obligation to identify oneself is already provided for in the law."

France passed a similar law banning the burqa and other face coverings in public spaces in 2010. The law’s legality was challenged, but it was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014.

Some lawmakers in Germany have also proposed a similar face veil ban.

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