Dutch government to introduce veil ban backed by €380 fine as part of deal with Wilders

Women wearing the Islamic burqa (full body cloak) or niqab (face veil) in public will soon be subject to a maximum fine of 380 euros. The planned measure is to be discussed by the Dutch cabinet on Friday.

A “burqa ban” formed part of the minority Dutch government’s programme agreed with the populist Freedom Party (PVV) on whose parliamentary support the cabinet relies.

The senior partner in the coalition, the conservative VVD, is in favour of a general ban on people wearing clothes that cover the face including not only burqas but also balaclavas and helmets with opaque visors. On the VVD website, it is argued that people can find such clothing threatening.

The Christian Democrats are the smaller party in the coalition and say: “Clothing covering the face makes it harder to indentify people, hinders communication and makes people feel less safe.”

From 2007, the PVV has called for a “burqa ban” punishable by higher fines and even imprisonment. It describes the garment as “an expression of the rejection of the West’s core values”.

It is estimated that about 150 women in the Netherlands always wear the burqa or niqab when they go out in public. A maximum of a few hundred women wear the garments occasionally.

RNW, 15 September 2011