The so-called ‘burka ban’ has led to a wave of physical and verbal abuse against Muslims, according to an organisation petitioning for its abolition.
The Report Islamophobia Foundation (Stichting Meld Islamofobie) has called on parliament to reconsider the law banning face coverings on public transport and in buildings including schools and hospitals.
Between 200 and 400 women in the Netherlands are estimated to wear a burka or niqab that cover the face. Since August 1 last year they face being fined €150 if they breach the ban. It does not apply to garments such as the hijab or chador that cover the hair but leave the face exposed.
‘Muslim women with and without face veils say they have been the target of islamophobia more frequently since the law was introduced,’ the organisation wrote in its annual report.
‘They are mostly targeted in places where the law does not apply such as shops and playgrounds and the police are not always properly informed about what the law says, meaning Muslim women do not have confidence in them.’
The foundation said the ban had also sparked online ‘witch hunts’ and articles in the media telling people how to make a ‘citizen’s arrest’ if they saw the law was not being enforced, though it noted large-scale persecution had not ensued.
Children were involved in around half of the incidents, mostly as witnesses. ‘They have had to watch their mothers in face veils become the target of verbal aggression, comments and violence,’ a spokesman said.
It said the law had created problems rather than solving them, describing it as ‘gesture politics with far-reaching consequences for Muslim women who wear face veils,’ and has started a petition for its abolition. The cabinet is due to evaluate the law in 2022.
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