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19.07.2019 Feature Article

Holland Joins Other Countries To Ban The Use Of Burka In Public

Geert Wilders, the famous Dutch anti-Islam politician
Geert Wilders, the famous Dutch anti-Islam politician

In 2010, Belgium banned the wearing of the Islamic burka in public. A parliamentary vote on the Bill which banned face coverings raised fears among Muslim groups and human rights campaigners. Amnesty International condemned the move as an attack on religious freedom.

Now it has been revealed that burka ban comes into effect on August 1, with a €150 fine for people caught wearing face-covering headgear in schools, on public transport, in hospitals and public buildings in Holland.

The ban requires public officials and public transport workers to ask people caught covering their faces to remove the offending garment or leave the building.

If they refuse, the police will be brought in. Senators voted last June in favour of the controversial proposals, 13 years after a burka ban became a subject of debate.

In 2005, the lower house of parliament first supported a motion by Geert Wilders, a Dutch anti-Islam politician, and the PVV, for a ban on the public wearing of burkas and in 2010, a total ban was included in the coalition agreement at the behest of the PVV.

That coalition collapsed after the PVV withdrew its support and a partial ban was included in the 2012 coalition plans. In November 2016, the lower house of parliament backed the measure, which will now come into effect.

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Governments want to prevent the act of terrorism behind the burka

The Council of State, which is the government’s most senior advisory body, recommended against introducing a ban, arguing that there are already sufficient provisions in the law to require people to show their faces.

According to sources, there are 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.

The ban has drawn a mixed response and activists say it violates Muslim women’s right to practice their religion freely.

So far, here are countries that have introduced a nationwide ban on Islamic facial coverings:

France, Belgium, Republic of Congo, Chad, Sri Lanka, Bulgaria, Gabon, Latvia, Austria, and Denmark.

Joel Savage
Joel Savage, © 2019

Joel Savage is a Ghanaian-Belgian journalist and author. The accredited press-card holder of the Flemish Journalists Association once contributed regularly to the features column of the Daily Graphic, The Mirror, Ghanaian Times and the Weekly Spectator. The writer currently lives in Belgium., Author column: JoelSavage

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