Dutch ‘burqa ban’ proves unenforcible
The Netherlands’ “burqa ban”, which bars face coverings in hospitals, schools and on public transport, is proving unenforcible.
The law was rendered largely pointless on its first day last week after it emerged the police were unwilling to enforce it.
The traditional bastion of tolerance and religious freedom is following Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Denmark in banning the Islamic dress.
The burqa and niqab worn by Muslim women have been banned in Dutch government buildings.
But the Dutch police have said stopping women in burqas is not a priority and fear it will stop some women reporting crimes to the authorities.
An Islamic political party in Rotterdam has said it will pay the €150 fine for anyone charged under the ban.
Few women in the Netherlands cover their faces with estimates of a few hundred among 17 million Dutch citizens.
There is no ban on covering the face in the street.
Professor Tom Zwart of the University of Utrecht said: “The ban is still on the books, and if they come across a strict bus driver or tram conductor, they might still be in trouble.
“This undoubtedly has a chilling effect on their ability to take part in public life.”
Transport companies said their bus conductors and train drivers would not enforce the law, especially as the police appear unwilling to back them up.
Pedro Peters of the RET transport network said: “The police have told us the ban is not a priority and that, therefore, they will not be able to respond inside the usual 30 minutes, if at all.
“It is not up to transport workers to impose the law and hand out fines.”
The Dutch hospitals’ federation said the ban was the job of the police, not hospital staff.
“We are not aware of any cases in which wearing face-covering clothing or a possible ban has led to problems,” the body announced.
Meanwhile, anti-migrant populist Geert Wilders, who called for a burqa ban more than a decade of debate ago, welcomed the “historic day”, calling for the law to be expanded to include Islamic headscarves.
Wilders said: “I believe we should now try to take it to the next step.
“The next step to make it sure that the headscarf could be banned in the Netherlands as well.”
the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2014 that such legislation was not a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, Amnesty International has said burqa bans were a blatant contravention of the right of women to dress as they choose and was no business of the state.
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