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26 Jun, 2018 16:18

Islamic face veils banned in public buildings by Dutch parliament

Islamic face veils banned in public buildings by Dutch parliament

The Upper House of the Dutch parliament has passed a law banning Islamic face veils and other face-covering garments in public places such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.

Lawmakers cited security reasons when they introduced the legislation which outlaws all face-covering garb in public buildings but not on the street. Motorcycle helmets and ski-masks are included in the ban and people who break the new law face a fine of up to €410 ($430).

The bill was approved by the Lower House in 2016, following the failure of efforts to impose a more general ban on burqas and other face-covering veils. The Dutch government’s main advising body in 2015 said the choice to wear an Islamic veil is protected by the constitutional right to freedom of religion, and that it saw no ground to limit that right.

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Staunch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders welcomed the passing of the new law on Twitter, tweeting a screengrab of an article about the issue along with the message: “Adopted!”  

Wilders has long campaigned for a ban on face veils, originally tabling a motion seeking to have them outlawed more than 10 years ago.

The Dutch government describes the new law as “religion-neutral” and it does not extend as far as more comprehensive bans in neighboring France and Belgium.

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France introduced a ban on Muslim women wearing full-face veils in public in 2011. Belgium followed suit and introduced a similar ban later that year.

Both countries were taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over their laws. The court upheld France’s burqa ban in 2014 and it also ruled in favor of Belgian authorities in 2017, saying that their law “doesn’t violate European human rights law.”

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