Friday 29 May 2020

Take back your words about burqas, junior minister tells mayor

Photo: Gemeente Amsterdam

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema’s comments about new legislation banning face covering garments from government buildings were ‘premature and inappropriate’, junior home affairs minister Raymond Knops said on Tuesday afternoon.

‘The comments were inappropriate and unfitting for the office of mayor,’ he told MPs in a reaction to questions. ‘Amsterdam’s mayor cannot continue to back this standpoint. I am assuming she will take back her words and keep to the law.’

Halsema has been heavily criticized for telling local broadcaster AT5 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.

Rotterdam and Utrecht’s mayors have also said upholding the new law – which has not yet come into effect – is not a priority.

Halsema is likely to face questioning about her views at Wednesday’s full meeting of the city council.

The legislation, which was passed in the senate in June, 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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