Netherlands introduces burqa ban in some public spaces

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The Dutch Parliament has voted on the so-called Partial Ban on Face Covering Clothing Act whose implementation is scheduled for the beginning of August 2019. The bill prohibits any form of face covering clothing in a variety of public spaces, such as schools, hospitals, and public buildings, among others. 

The Dutch Council of State was critical of the measure, questioning its usefulness and necessity, saying that the law does not “provide for such an urgent need that this can justify a restriction on the right to freedom of religion”. Many major Dutch cities have said that they will not prioritise the enforcement of this bill by not imposing fines for violations.

Far-right politicians such as Geert Wilders celebrate the ban by suggesting that it was a step to “de-islamise and stop Islam” in the Netherlands. Proponents of the law furthermore argue that it will improve security by ensuring the identification of people.

Opponents of the ban, such as Annelies Moors, professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, are concerned that the ban will prevent women from accessing public spaces and facilities such as schools or hospitals.

The ban in the Netherlands follows similar laws in eight other EU countries such as France, Germany, Austria and Belgium.