Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema told a full meeting of the city council on Wednesday that her comments about the pending ‘burqa ban’ had been misunderstood.
Halsema was criticised by MPs and ministers for telling local broadcaster AT5 that she did not consider that ‘hauling someone out of the tram for wearing a niqab’ was ‘fitting’ in Amsterdam. She also suggested there were better uses of scarce police manpower.
But Halsema told councillors on Wednesday that the nuance in her statements had not been picked up. ‘The impression has been given that city and national politics are at odds,’ she said. ‘That is a misunderstanding. Amsterdam is a city which follows the law.’
Nevertheless there are higher priority problems, such as organised crime, threats against journalists and hand grenades being left outside shops, Halsema said.
Rotterdam and Utrecht’s mayors have also said upholding the new law – which has not yet come into effect – is not a priority.
No date has yet been set for the legislation to come into force. It was passed in the senate in June and bans face-covering clothing on public transport, in government buildings and in schools and hospitals. Offenders risk a fine of €400.
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