June 27 (UPI) — The Netherlands banned full face coverings — including burqas and motorcycle helmets — in some public spaces Wednesday.
The country’s Senate approved the prohibition 40-35. It applies to face coverings like ski masks and niqabs, but not hijabs, which are headscarves that leave the face visible.
It prohibits the face coverings on public transport and in school buildings, health facilities and government buildings. It does not apply to public streets.
The Senate’s press officer, Gert Riphagen, told CNN there are about 200 to 400 people in the Netherlands who wear a burqa or niqab out of the country’s 17 million people.
Supporters of the new law said it will keep people safe. Senator Marjolein Faber-Van de Klashorst said it was a step to “de-Islamise” the country.
“This is the first step and the next step is to close all the mosques in the Netherlands,” she said.
Annelies Moors, professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Amsterdam described the new law as “virtually a complete ban.”
“And, of course, the private sector can also have their house rules, they could also possibly legislate against their presence. So this leaves women very little space,” she said.
The Netherlands joins France, Spain, Italy and other European and African nations that have full or partial bans on full-face veils in public.