Netherlands to ban full-face veil in public places

Ban will apply to all face-covering clothing, including helmets, on public transport and in schools, hospitals and government offices

A woman wearing a burqa walks past the Palace of Justice in The Hague. The Dutch cabinet on Friday approved a partial ban on wearing face-covering. Photograph: Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images

A woman wearing a burqa walks past the Palace of Justice in The Hague. The Dutch cabinet on Friday approved a partial ban on wearing face-covering. Photograph: Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images

 

The Dutch government on Friday agreed to introduce a partial ban on the wearing of the full-face veil in public places, the home affairs ministry said in a statement.

The proposed ban, which must be approved by parliament before it can become law, would apply to all face-covering clothing, including ski-masks and helmets, on public transport and in schools, hospitals and government offices.

The measure “had nothing to do with religion,” prime minister Mark Rutte told journalists in The Hague after the proposed measure was passed by the cabinet.

“In a free country like the Netherlands, everyone has the right to dress how they choose, no matter what others think.

“That freedom is only limited in situations when it is essential for people to look at each other,” the statement said.

Anti-Islam opposition politician Geert Wilders, whose far-right policies have won him widespread support among Dutch voters, has long sought a ban on face veils and burqas. Mr Wilders told Dutch television on Friday the proposed measure was “weak”.

‘Enforce values’

France banned full-face veils in 2010, meaning women with their faces covered risk a fine of €150 in a move that was upheld last year by the European Court of Human Rights. – (Reuters)