Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration party PVV, has introduced his own bill to outlaw the face-covering burqa in the Netherlands.
If the proposal becomes law, women wearing a burqa or niqab in public would face a 12-day jail term or €3,350 fine. Full-face motorbike helmets and balaclava hats would not fall under the ban.
Wilders told the paper the burqa should be banned because it is a ‘symbol of female oppression’. It also reduces the chances of women finding work and contributes to a feeling of insecurity on the streets, he said. ‘We have to stand up for our western norms and values,’ Wilders told the AD newspaper.
A similar motion from Wilders two years ago won a parliamentary majority but the cabinet was divided on the issue. Other attempts to ban the burqa ran out of time because of the general election.
However, news agency ANP says it is unlikely the bill will get majority approval in its present form. While both the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Liberals (VVD) want a ban, they say it should apply to everything which covers the face, including a full-face motorbike helmets and balaclava hats.
‘It is not a question of religious clothing but protecting public order,’ CDA MP Madeilene van Toorenburg told ANP. Liberal MP Halbe Zijlstra said Wilders’ bill would run foul of anti-discrimination legislation.
Around 50 to 100 women wear a burqa or other face-covering garments in the Netherlands, experts say.
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