The cabinet on Friday voted to ban burkas and other face-covering garments from public places. Once the legislation has passed through parliament, the Netherlands will become the third country in Europe to ban the Islamic garment, after France and Belgium.
The ban will apply to people wearing balaclavas and full-frontal motorbike helmets on the street as well as the estimated 100 burka wearers in the Netherlands. Women wearing a burka or a full veil face a fine of €380.
Home affairs minister Liesbeth Spies said after the cabinet vote it is of ‘immense importance’ that burkas are banned. People in an open society should communicate with each other openly, she told reporters on Friday afternoon.
It is not yet clear when the draft legislation will be submitted to parliament and when it will come into effect. The ban forms part of the agreement between the minority cabinet and the anti-Islam PVV so the bill can be assured of at least a majority of one.
Dutch Turkish association Inspraakorgaan Turken in Nederland said the government had not thought through the effect of the ban properly. ‘Women who only dared or were allowed to leave their homes in a burka will not stay at home,’ the organisation’s chairman Aydin Akkaya told news agency ANP.
And GroenLinks parliamentarian Tofik Dibi, said he does not understand why the burka is such a big issue. ‘People are unsure about their and their children’s future, but instead lets track down and fine a handful of burkas,’ he said.
Earlier this week, regional newspapers reported the draft legislation had been heavily criticised by the government’s most important advisory body and needed significant amendments.
Minister Spies told reporters the cabinet had decided not to accept some of the Council of State’s recommendations.