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Dutch government plans to ban the burqa (sort of)

“It has nothing to do with religion,” says the Prime Minister.

Associated Press Associated Press

THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT announced today it was planning a limited ban on “face-covering clothing,” widely interpreted as a new attempt to outlaw burqas, the head-to-toe robe worn by some Muslim women.

It’s understood that only a few hundred women in the Netherlands wear the garment, out of a population of 17 million.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his coalition has drawn up a proposal to ban face-covering clothing on public transport and in schools, government buildings and medical institutions.

The proposal will be sent for assessment to the Council of State, a panel of legal experts.

The panel was heavily critical in 2012 of an attempt by the government to ban burqas, saying it breached religious freedom provisions in the Dutch constitution.

Rutte insisted the latest move is not targeting any particular religious group and will not go as far as the earlier attempt at a general ban on burqas.

It has nothing to do with religion or what people do in their own homes.

Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said people “can still walk along the street in a burqa,” but they would have to remove it to get onto a bus.

In 2011, France became the first country in Europe outlaw face-covering veils in public.

The Dutch Muslim women’s organization Al Nisa said in a statement that the proposal is not tackling a serious problem in society, but rather reacting to fears.

Fear that threatens to manifest itself against anything that we find different or strange.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

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