Over a year since the Netherlands introduced a ban on wearing face coverings in public, just four women have been warned for wearing a niqab and no-one has been fined, the Volkskrant said on Wednesday.
The so-called burqa ban was introduced at the beginning of August 2019 after a 13-year political struggle, despite critics warning the legislation was largely symbolic.
All four warnings – for wearing a niqab on a bus, on the train, in a hospital and in a town hall – were all given shortly after the ban was introduced and since then there has been nothing official. The paper bases its claim on police figures obtained using freedom of information legislation.
The law states that people who wear any face covering in public buildings, hospitals, schools and on trams and trains, face a fine of €150. The law applies to all face coverings, including balaclavas and full face motorbike helmets
No-one knows how many women in the Netherlands wear the fundamentalist Islamic garment, but estimates range from 100 to 400.
Lawyer Famile Arslan told the paper that the threat of a fine is unlikely to persuade the few women who do wear a niqab to take it off. ‘They are hardcore and won’t make concessions quickly,’ she said.
Arslan described the low number of warnings as remarkable, in particular given that when the law was introduced it was suggested in the AD that the law gave bystanders the right to make a citizen’s arrest if women are spotted wearing niqabs.
Many organisations and local authorities also said at the time that they would not enforce the legislation.
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