Religion

Netherlands Approves Partial Ban On Full-Face Veils In Public Areas

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A partial ban on wearing full-face veils, including the niqab and burqa, has been approved by the Netherlands government.

The new law will apply to schools, hospitals and public transport. It does not apply to wearing the niqab on the street, but only “in specific situations where it is essential for people to be seen" or for security reasons, reports Al Jazeera.

The bill was introduced by the Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk and, according to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, does not have a “religious background.”

Rutte also said the government "tried to find a balance between people's freedom to wear the clothes they want and the importance of mutual and recognisable communication.”

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Metro reports that ski masks and helmets are also included in the legislation.

The country's home affairs ministry has shown their anger over the new law.

“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 ministry said in a statement.

If a person is found breaking the new law, they may be fined up to $450.

A previous bill that banned veils on the street, passed during the former government under Rutte, will be withdrawn.

The government reportedly "sees no reason for a general ban that would apply to all public places.”

The partial ban in the Netherlands is not as restrictive as neighboring countries Belgium and France, where the veil is banned in all public places.

Sources: Metro, Al Jazeera

Photo Credit: Jean-Francois Gornet/Flickr