Holland is to become the latest European country to ban the burka, despite the fact that fewer than 100 Dutch women are thought to wear the face-covering Islamic dress.
The Dutch government will agree to introduce a ban on Friday making the Netherlands the third country in Europe to prohibit the burka, behind France and Belgium.
Women caught wearing a burka in public, on the streets, public transport and in schools or hospitals will be fined £330.
There will be exemptions for mosques, or other religious buildings and for foreign women travelling through the transit lounges of international Dutch airports.
Cabinet ministers will justify the ban with the argument that the burka does “not fit into our open society and women must participate fully.”
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Women wearing the Islamic burqa (full body cloak) or niqab (face veil) in public will soon be subject to a maximum fine of 380 euros. The planned measure is to be discussed by the Dutch cabinet on Friday.
A ‘burqa ban’ formed part of the minority Dutch government’s programme agreed with the populist Freedom Party (PVV) on whose parliamentary support the cabinet relies.
Rather than singling out burqas and niqabs, the senior partner in the coalition, the conservative VVD, is in favour of a general ban on people wearing clothes that cover the face including balaclavas and helmets with opaque visors. On the VVD website, it is argued that people can find such clothing threatening. The extent of the ban will become clear after Friday’s cabinet meeting.
The Christian Democrats are the smaller party in the coalition and say: “Clothing covering the face makes it harder to indentify people, hinders communication and makes people feel less safe”.