Netherlands Partial Burqa Ban Comes into Force After 14 Years of Debate

A woman wearing a burqa walks past the Palace of Justice in The Hague on December 1, 2014. The Dutch cabinet approved on May 22, 2015 a partial ban on wearing the face-covering Islamic veil, including in schools, hospitals and on public transport. AFP PHOTO / ANP PHOTO / FILER …
JERRY LAMPEN/AFP/Getty Images

The Netherlands has brought into force a ban on Islamic face veils in public spaces, 14 years after it was first mooted by Dutch populist Geert Wilders.

The ban on items such as burqas and niqabs also includes other facial coverings such as helmets and hoods and came into force on Thursday. The legislation was passed in June 2018, but was first put forward by the right-wing firebrand in 2005. However, it is only a partial ban as the law does not prohibit the wearing of the veil on the street.

“From now on the wearing of clothing which covers the face is banned in educational facilities, public institutions and buildings, as well as hospitals and public transport,” the Dutch interior ministry said in a statement reported by AFP. Failure to abide by the law could result in a fine of €150 (£137/$167).

Bans on the Islamic veil vary across Europe, with France becoming the first European country to ban it in 2010, and unlike in the Netherlands, the law prohibits its wearing anywhere in public. However in October 2018, the United Nations demanded France rescind the law which it said “violated” Muslim women’s human rights.

Denmark banned the burqa outright in 2018, while Austria banned it in 2017, Bulgaria and Latvia in 2016, and Belgium in 2011. There are also partial and regional bans in Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and Spain.

There have also been a number of recent bans of the garment in Islamic countries or countries where there is a significant Muslim population. The North African nation of Tunisia banned Islamic facial coverings in government buildings in July “for security reasons” following three terror attacks in the country’s capital, Tunis, where witnesses said one of the bombers was wearing a veil. The niqab had not been tolerated under the previous Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime, but it had a resurgence following the so-called “Arab Spring” in 2011.

Sri Lanka had banned the burqa in April following the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks which targetted Christians and tourists, with the country’s presidential office releasing a statement saying: “The ban is to ensure national security… No-one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult.”

But while 71 per cent of Britons back a burqa ban, no restrictions on the wearing of the item are in place. Breitbart London reported in May that a doctor with 23 years’ experience could face being fired as a result of asking a Muslim woman to remove her veil during her daughter’s medical consultation because he could not understand what she was saying.

Criminals are also taking advantage of the UK’s liberal laws on facial coverings to take part in heinous crimes. Last month, three people had acid thrown at them in two separate attacks in London by perpetrators reportedly wearing burqas to disguise themselves.

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