Dutch MPs yesterday (29 November) voted overwhelmingly to ban the Islamic full-face burqa from some public places such as schools and hospitals, the latest such move in a European country.
“The law is adopted,” said the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Khadija Arib, referring to legislation which will also ban burqas, and face coverings just with eye-slits, from public transport.
The motion “to ban all clothing which completely covers the face” from government buildings was approved by 132 members in the 150-seat house, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruling Liberal-Labour coalition.
The legislation must now go before the Senate for approval before becoming law. It follows similar bans imposed in France and Belgium, and comes amid rising tensions in Europe with Islamic communities.
The Dutch cabinet had approved the plan in mid-2015, but decided not to go as far as banning wearing burqas on the streets.
It backed the legislation due to the “necessity to be able to interact face-to-face, for instance in places where public services are performed and safety must be guaranteed,” the government said.
“The government sees no need to impose the ban on all public spaces,” it added.
Those flouting the ban would face a fine of up to €410.
Safety equipment such as helmets or full-face protection while working, playing sport or “during a festive or cultural event” is not however included in the ban.