Monday 18 November 2019

Council was right to cut niqab-wearer’s welfare benefits: court

A Muslim woman who refused to remove her niqab while undergoing training to find a job rightfully had her benefits cut by 30%, the highest Dutch administrative court said on Tuesday.

The woman, who has since moved to England, refused to remove the garment which only left her eyes exposed. Utrecht city council, charged with helping the jobless find work, then reduced her welfare benefits, claiming that the niqab substantially reduced her chances of finding work.

‘An uncovered face plays and important role in the contact between people and is essential in finding work,’ the court said in its ruling.

While the woman is entitled to wear a niqab under freedom of religion legislation, the council’s interest in helping her to find a job as quickly as possible is more important, the court said. In addition, her refusal to remove the niqab was putting unnecessary pressure on council resources.

This means that the city council has the right to impede upon her religious rights, the court concluded.

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