Sunday, November 19, 2006


Dutch Muslims hit out at proposed burqa ban

BREITBART - Dutch Muslims have hit out at a proposed government ban of face veils, saying it was over the top, ill-conceived and infringed religious rights.

On Friday the Dutch cabinet said it was proposing a bill banning clothing that covers the face in public, targeting in particular Muslim woman wearing the burqa or niqab.

The burqa is an Islamic veil covering the entire face and body and a mesh screen to see through, while the niqab is a veil covering the face but leaving the eye area clear. The garments are worn by a few dozen women in the Netherlands.

Rita Verdonk, minister of immigration and integration, said the bill proposed a ban on the basis that covering the face constituted a risk to public order and safety.

The ban would be imposed in public and "semi-public" places such as schools, courts, ministries and trains, her spokesman Martin Bruinsma told AFP.

"In this country, we want to be able to see each other. The ban is a question of security," daily De Telegraaf quoted on Saturday the minister as saying.

But representatives of the country's Muslim population were unimpressed.

"They are going to have to find a better argument than security. It is an infringement on the freedom of religion," said Ahmed Markouch, a Moroccan mosques representative.

He predicted that the bill would go down badly with the country's sizeable Muslim population, "because it comes from Verdonk, not because they are in favour of the burqa."

Green Party lawmaker Mustapha Laboui, who is of Moroccan origin, said that although he believed the wearing of the burqa in Dutch society was "not logical", he was sceptical as to the bill's legality.

And Ayhan Tonca from the CMO, a group representing Muslims, said that such a law would be "useless".

"The existing laws are sufficient for dealing with the problems. It's over the top, a law for a dozen people!," Tonca told AFP.

As in many European countries, the integration of immigrants is a hot topic in the Netherlands, and the bill comes just days before legislative elections.