Just last week, news broke out that Holland was considering a ban on burqas, similar to the burqa bans in France and Belgium. The ban in Holland would not be as harsh as the ones in France and Belgium; it would stop allowing people to wear ski masks, or women to wear the burqa in certain public places, like schools, government buildings, or public transportation.
Within the past 24 hours, 88% of Holland’s Members of Parliament (MPs) voted for a rule that would ban any type of face or head covering in public, which includes burqas, niqabs, ski masks, and helmets. Additionally, anyone who continues to wear any facial coverings once the proposal is a law will be fined €405 ($431 USD). Now, they are waiting for the rule to be approved by the Senate in order for it to become law.
Though Dutch lawmakers have argued that the proposal of the ban didn’t have anything to do with singling out a specific religion, the interior minister Ronald Plasterk “accepted that the debate about people wearing burqas and niqabs in public had been central to the proposal.”
Yet the Prime Minister of Holland, Mark Rutte, was quoted saying, “The bill does not have any religious background.” While the number of lawmakers who were intending on singling out Islam and niqab/burqa-wearing Muslims is unkown, certain lawmakers admitted that the primary use of the proposal would be to undo the “oppression” that niqab/burqa-wearing women are subjected to. Independent lawmaker Jacques Monasch, called the burqa ‘a symbol of oppression of women‘.
However, other lawmakers, specifically in the D66 (centrist) party, opposed the proposal because there were already laws that prevented women from wearing the niqab or burqa in certain public settings. Additionally, only a few hundred women actually wear a niqab or burqa so creating a law intended specifically for Muslims would be singling them out.
Some believed the proposal was only the beginning.
Freedom Party founder Geert Wilders called the limited ban, “a step in the right direction”, adding that he will push for a complete ban if his party is elected next year, The Associated Press reported.
Holland’s proposed ban’s fines and punishments are also not as bad as France or Belgium. In France, women who wear niqabs or burqas are fined up to €150, but can be harassed by police. In Belgium, they can be fined €770, and have their social security benefits revoked. Currently, Switzerland, Germany, and Norway are considering similar bans.