French businessman to pay ‘burqa’ fines in Netherlands too

The Netherlands is about to ban burqas in public. In doing so it is following the example of France and Belgium. Rachid Nekkaz, a Muslim with an Algerian background, has set up a million-euro fund in France to pay the fines.

He thinks burqa bans violate European constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms, which is strange because personally he believes burkas do not help integration: “Personally I am against burqas, because I don’t think wearing a niqaab helps the integration of these women into French society.”

After the introduction of a burqa ban in France, Mr Nekkaz set up the organisation Touche Pas à Ma Constitution or Don’t Touch My Constitution. The organisation will also help Dutch women if the ban is introduced. “Dutch women who get fined can phone me.” Mr Nekkaz says. “My number is on the internet.”

And it is not just an empty promise. The rich 38-year-old entrepreneur has already paid fines for two girls in Brussels. He says one million euros may be a lot of money, but it is nothing if it enables you to defend civil liberties.

The cabinet will decide on the ban today. Then it still has to go through parliament, but it is already clear that a parliamentary majority backs the measure.

In Belgium, legal proceedings have been taken against the ban (which includes the niqaab). The court’s verdict is expected soon.

RNW, 16 September 2011