Netherlands bans the burka

Burkas and niqabs are now banned in the Netherlands

Thursday, August 1, 2019

A Dutch law banning face-covering clothing including the burka and niqab has come into force.

The garments worn by Muslim women, along with motorcycle helmets and ski masks, are now banned on public transport, in government buildings, in schools and at hospitals.

The ban was suggested by Dutch politician Geert Wilders in 2005 and follows similar laws in France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Denmark.

Mr Wilders welcomed the ban and said women that want to wear the burka could “go live in Saudi-Arabia or Iran”.

Human rights groups have opposed the measure and the Dutch Islamic political party NIDA has offer to pay the €150 (£136) fine for anyone caught breaking it.

Party spokesman Cemil Yilmaz said the law was a form of “bullying” and no more than “symbolic politics”.

There are around 400,000 Muslim women in the Netherlands, however it is estimated only a few hundred wear a burka or niqab. It is unclear how firmly the new law will be enforced.

Hospital and public transport officials said enforcement lies with the police, but police said it is not their priority.

Public transport employees have been instructed not to expel passengers with their face covered but warned that waiting for police to arrive to issue a fine would cause massive delays.

The law will be re-evaluated after three years.

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