The Netherlands has banned the wearing of the face-covering veil known as a burqa or niqab, in public buildings and on transport, which comes into effect Today.
Between 500 and 1000 women are estimated to wear a burqa or niqab in the country of 17 million people.
The Dutch legislation was passed in June 2016 after more than a decade of political debate on the subject. Despite the contentious nature of the law on the garment worn by mainly Muslim women, after making it through parliament it has come into force.
The far-right politician Geert Wilders had proposed the face-covering veil ban back in 2005. It is suggested that his campaigning and Far-Right rhetoric is what pushed the coalition government to cave in and pass the legislation.
The law was opposed by many non-Mulsim activists who argued that the banning the face-veil was the impeding the rights of the Dutch people. Today it may be the face veil, tomorrow it may be something else.
However, the Dutch Interior Minister said in a statement “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,”.
It added that it was important in such public places to be recognised and seen, which besides the burqa, also bans a face-covering helmet or hood. A person could be fined 150 euros ($165).
Under the terms of the Partial Ban on Face-Covering Clothing Act, the wearing of ski masks, full-face helmets, balaclavas, niqabs and burqas is prohibited in public buildings including schools and hospitals and on public transport.
However, the public transport sector said it would not stop to make a woman in a burqa get off as it would cause delays. And hospitals also said they would still treat people regardless of what they are wearing.
The Netherlands is the sixth EU country to prohibit face-covering clothing in public buildings, which all started with France.
The Dutch law does not ban the wearing of a burqa on the street, unlike France´s ban which took effect in 2010. Other EU countries like Belgium, Denmark and Austria have similar laws.
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