Dutch plan ban on Muslim face veils next year

Published: January 29, 2012

Ban would make Netherlands to ban burqa after France, would apply to face-covering veils if they were worn in public. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

AMSTERDAM: The Dutch minority government plans to ban Muslim face veils such as burqas and other forms of clothing that cover the face from next year.

The ban would make the Netherlands, where 1 million out of 17 million people are Muslim, the second European Union country to ban the burqa after France, and would apply to face-covering veils if they were worn in public.

“People should be able to look at each other’s faces and recognize each other when they meet,” the interior affairs ministry said in a statement Friday.

The ban will also apply to balaclavas and motorcycle helmets when worn in inappropriate places, such as inside a store, Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen told reporters, denying that this was a ban on religious clothing.

Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), which helps give the Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition a majority in parliament, has set considerable political store on getting the so-called burqa ban passed into law.

Few Muslim women in the Netherlands wear the Arabic-style niqabs which leave the eyes uncovered and Afghan-style burqas that cover the face with a cloth grid. Academics estimate the numbers at between 100 and 400, whereas Muslim headscarves which leave the face exposed are far more common.

The coalition has agreed to submit a new law to parliament next week stipulating that offenders would be fined up to 390 euros ($510), the ministry said.

Verhagen said the ban was intended to ensure that a tradition of open communication cherished in Dutch society was upheld, and to prevent people from concealing their identity in order to do harm.

Wilders, who condemned Dutch Queen Beatrix for covering her hair with a scarf on a recent royal visit to the Middle East, said on Twitter: “Great news: burqa ban will finally come to the Netherlands! Proposal approved by ministers’ council. Excellent!”

Maurits Berger, professor of Islam in the contemporary West at Leiden University, said only a few hundred women wear the full face veil in the Netherlands.

“This is highly symbolic, it’s part of the deal made with PVV,” Berger said. “We are in the middle of a crisis. There are worse things to tackle.”

The minority coalition is at odds with the Freedom Party over where to make further budget cuts, and the scale of the cuts needed.

The face-veil law, which still needs to win approval in both houses of parliament, excludes clothing worn for security reasons such as that worn by firemen and hockey players, as well as party clothing such as Santa Claus or Halloween costumes.

The ban does not apply to religious places, such as churches and mosques, nor to passengers on airplanes or en route via a Dutch airport, the interior ministry said.

Reader Comments (26)

  • Talha
    Jan 29, 2012 - 1:45PM

    I don’t see a problem with this because women are still allowed to wear a hijab.

    A face veil on the other hand is obstructive and not a requirement.

    I went to France recently and many women were wearing hijabs with an abaya.

    If millions of Muslim, who reside in these countries, have a problem with these laws, they can move back to thier own Muslim countries. But are they willing to give up the freedom and luxuries provided in Europe? I certainly don’t think so.

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  • Parvez
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:14PM

    When one considers the way Pakistani non-Muslims and Muslims other than those who hold the Sunni view are treated in Pakistan, who are we to point fingers at the Dutch for doing what they think is right for their society.

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  • Mj
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:15PM

    I think it is a good step. Whenever you step out in the public you have no right to obscure your face and identity. Do keep in mind that the ban is not on hijab or head covering, only on veils which cover the face.

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  • Jan 29, 2012 - 2:49PM

    Very good step.. Fully support Dutch govt. Every country has the right to ban anything for the safety of her citizens. We should/must learn from such countries.

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  • Noran danish
    Jan 29, 2012 - 4:31PM

    Islam doesn’t allow to hide face. This is only for criminals whether woman or man. It can be seen in mecca when ladies goes there for pilgrimage that no lady covers her face. But made it islamic totally against the spirit of islam. To hide a face is violation of human rights.Recommend

  • Much Amused
    Jan 29, 2012 - 5:52PM

    Well done Netherlands. Hope the Brits have the guts to follow.Recommend

  • Tahir
    Jan 29, 2012 - 6:20PM

    Congratulations Netherlands for using legislation to mask over your deep-seated prejudice against Islam.

    To make such a deal over an issue that affects only 100-400 women in a country of millions of people is laughable and betrays the fact that this despicable curtailment of personal and private freedom is entirely being used as a political tool. It is a tool that seeks to pander to the worst aspect of a human being’s nature-the fear of the “other”

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  • shazada zahid mahmoud loan
    Jan 29, 2012 - 6:38PM

    This is the most stupid given that not only few women wear the full veil but also an assault on freedom of expression. It gets the minority Christian extremist government to bring about the ban that will in the end not work. It is like Hitler’s draconian laws against the Jews and in the end the Dutch law will be defeated or the same people will beg to have it removed. We will have to wait for that time. The women should be allowed to cover if they so wish much as those women that are allowed to go half-naked as they do now. The curbing of freedom for one group is bad for others as well – where are the European Human rights groups and the feminists. It does go to show that the Christian/Jewish fundamentalist are at work both in France and Netherlands.

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  • Durendal
    Jan 29, 2012 - 7:40PM

    So tired of arguments over burqa no burqa both sides of the argument have some legitimacy, I believe one should view it from a practical standpoint.The Netherlands but also France have problems with a Muslim minority population.It’s different for other countries but in France and the Netherlands what you have is a female Muslim population that doesn’t emancipate.They go to school , they graduate but after that you never see them again. They literally disappear.These are very serious issues and the burqa ban should be seen in light of this.The situation now is that woman feel rewarded if they stay home and wear burqa’s.In general i believe societies should say where they are.If they want woman to be anonymous and outside of society or if they want to ban these kind of clothing.You are in a state of luxury if you don’t feel the need to make such a choice.France,Belgium,Netherlands no longer have the luxury to wait.

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  • Njy
    Jan 29, 2012 - 8:40PM

    Peace be upon all of us. No one can defeat Islam, Sorry to say that even Muslims have not understand what Islam is. But in future the modernized world will proof that what Islam is & how sweet is it.

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  • Njy
    Jan 29, 2012 - 9:00PM

    @Pakistani Hindu:
    Brother, your right in saying that every country should band any thing for the safety of citizens. But not so important in case on Face veils. We can give the first place to do comments against on prostitution centers.

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  • Raj - USA
    Jan 29, 2012 - 9:30PM

    @Njy:
    I do not understand what you are trying to say. Are you trying to say that face veil is bad but even worse things? What is the connection you are trying to bring between face veil and prostitution?

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  • Chaman
    Jan 29, 2012 - 10:27PM

    Rt wing fascists at play.

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  • Katarina
    Jan 29, 2012 - 11:38PM

    This is an issue where I have a hard time to decide what is my opinion. People should be allowed to wear what they want but then on the other hand many european countries having serious problems with the muslim community who does not want to integrate to the society.

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  • Observer
    Jan 30, 2012 - 1:38AM

    @Tahir:

    “Congratulations Netherlands for using legislation to mask over your deep-seated prejudice against Islam.”

    Would you also condemn the trampling of the rights of non-Muslims in Islamic countries? The very fact that Islamic countries declare Islam as the state religion is very discriminatory for non-Muslims. In Saudi Arabia non-Muslims are not even allowed to keep any religious books or artifacts of their religion, these are confiscated right at the airport and, no temples or churches are allowed.

    If Muslims have a right to enforce their own way of life on non-Muslims in their countries, why shouldn’t other non-Islamic states have the same rights to uphold their way of life and culture in their own countries? More importantly, if one wants to live in a very orthodox way, why migrate to non-Muslim countries in the first place and then complain? Why not just move to an Islamic country where they can practice their faiths and culture the way the want?

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  • ali tanoli
    Jan 30, 2012 - 1:57AM

    could muslims countries do the same opposite any westren women comes to muslim land they should be veil….. then what gonna happend all the world freedom of reliegen and culture and speeches Recommend

  • aka
    Jan 30, 2012 - 3:09AM

    I THINK IT IS A VILATION OF THE PERSON THE WAY THEY WANT TO WEAR ,PUT THE LAW ON THE PERSON THAT YOU DO NOT WEAR THIS I THINK IS AGAINST THE FREEDOM BEEN VILATED .WHAT HAPPEN TO WESTERN FREEDOM ,

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  • Cautious
    Jan 30, 2012 - 6:04AM

    The message is becoming clear — if you want to practice an extreme version of your religion then stay put. You want to immigrate to the West then leave you extremism behind.

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  • persian
    Jan 30, 2012 - 6:20AM

    @aka: Terrorism happened!!! If you can not see face of person, how do you know who he/she is?. Remember Lal masjid? That is why the ban is only on burqa or niqab, not on hijab.

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  • faraz
    Jan 30, 2012 - 9:43AM

    I believe in secularism both here and abroad. Person has the right to wear clothes according to his own will. From burqa to bikini, everything should be allowed

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  • Raza
    Jan 30, 2012 - 10:38AM

    This is not a problem. It would have been a problem if the headscarf had been banned. Niqab is not even required in Islam; and frankly if one wants to be over-zealous where its not even needed, they shouldn’t go to the West.Fact. I hope we don’t have to hear protests over this quite rational bill.

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  • Hamaad Haider
    Jan 30, 2012 - 10:49AM

    The debate is simple: Saudi and Iran require women to dress in a certain way in accordance with their laws. In most other largely muslim countries even if there is no law, there is enough social pressure to dress a certain way. I don’t think you would find a westerner on Karachi beach in a bikini. So if we can by law and/or social custom require everyone to dress in a certain way which is consistent with our cultural and social norms, why can’t countries in Europe try and do the same thing?

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  • Observer
    Jan 30, 2012 - 12:56PM

    @faraz:

    “I believe in secularism both here and abroad. Person has the right to wear clothes according to his own will. From burqa to bikini, everything should be allowed”

    In simplistic sense you are correct. But what these western countries are finding objectionable is that these immigrants don’t have any desire to assimilate into the host cultures but instead they demand that the host nations change their ways to accommodate their foreign ways and, in the process, changing the host culture.

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  • Njy
    Jan 30, 2012 - 5:31PM

    @Raj – USA:
    Brother, there z no connection between those, but I am trying to say dt a few amount of ladies used to cover their faces, so it doesn’t create problems. So in my point of view dt z not d first class problem in d society. But d no.1 problem in d world z prostitution (aids – which kills the human being day today & spoils the sweet families), so why do v postponed the actions against this first of all, & next about other meters. Thank you

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  • aka
    Feb 2, 2012 - 6:33AM

    then they shuold stop beating the drum of freedom.

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  • aka
    Feb 2, 2012 - 6:42AM

    my friend this is the way terrising our woman, do this do not do this wear this or not ,in the .
    free country ,they are anger on us, this is the way they get even with us.as fare we are in there land we can not do any thing.

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