Dutch public transport companies have instructed staff to ignore a new policy that refuses entry to Muslim women who wear the face covering burka, the AD reports.
The new legislation, which will come into effect on August 1, will not be implemented because police are not treating it as a high priority measure, the public transport organisation says.
‘That means the law is unworkable,’ spokesman Pedro Peters told the AD. ‘The police told us they will not attend incidents at a train, bus or metro within half an hour so that means we would be stuck. The service can’t be interrupted.’
Staff have received instructions not to refuse women wearing burkas and veils because they are not the ones that have to implement the law, the transport companies say.
‘A staff member may say, for instance, “are you aware that it is not allowed in public transport to wear face covering clothing?” But that is it. The person would never be refused entry,’ Peters said.
According to the spokesman women wearing veils have never been a problem in public transport. ‘When we ask them for proof of identity the women always lift the veil for a moment to show their face,’ he said.
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema was criticised by MPs and ministers last year 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.
Rotterdam and Utrecht have also suggested the ban will not be a high priority.
The ban includes a €150 fine for people caught wearing face-covering headgear in schools, on public transport, in hospitals and public buildings.
There are said to be about 150 women who wear a burka or niqab on a daily basis in the Netherlands. Critics say the effect of a ban will make it impossible for these women to go about their daily lives and enforcing the ban will be a waste of money.
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