France has a law that effectively bans the wearing of the burqa and niqab in public. So does Belgium. Now the Netherlands is set to follow suit. (Please pardon the pun.) Lawmakers in the lower house of the Dutch parliament today approved a limited ban on "face-covering clothing".
Nothing against Muslims, you understand. The law, which still requires approval by the upper house, would cover [That's enough puns. Ed.] ski masks, full-face motorcycle helmets and, errr, Islamic robes, such as the burqa, and veils such as the niqab worn by the lady (?) in the picture. The veil makes it difficult to tell whether the person underneath is a devout Muslim lady or a devout male Islamic terrorist.
The Dutch law which passed the lower house today does not go as far as the complete bans in force (but not always enforced) in France and Belgium. It applies to the wearing of "face-covering clothing" on public transport, in educational institutions, in health institutions such as hospitals, and in government buildings.
In the debate leading up to today's vote, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk acknowledged that public dislike of Islamic dress had played a major role in the ban. But Mr Plasterk, who is from the liberal Labour Party, said that in a free country like the Netherlands people should be allowed to appear in public with their faces covered, if they want to. But speaking out of the other side of his mouth, he added that in government buildings, schools and hospitals people need to be able to look each other in the face.
Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, called the limited ban "a step in the right direction" and said he will push for a full burqa ban if his party wins elections due in March. Walt wonders if notice is being taken in the UK and USA. Let's see what the new year brings.
Further reading: If you're still not sure about the difference between hijabs and niqabs and burqas, please consult "Hijab, niqab, burqa -- what's the difference?", an all-time favourite of WWW readers. Readers who still think of themselves as male (in spite of the efforts of the gender identity warriors) may also enjoy "Walt's Muslim swimsuit issue!". Warning: provocative video embedded!