The Dutch Islamic political party NIDA has announced a plan to pay for all fines received by wearers of the burka and niqab when a new law comes into effect next month.
The law passed Parliaments upper chamber earlier this week after ten years of similar attempts. It is being hailed as a major victory by far-right politician Geert Wilders Freedom Party in the party’s plan to ‘de-Islamise’ the Netherlands.
What does the ban involve?
While the law passed is supposedly ‘religion-neutral,’ wearers of burkas and niqabs are thought to be the most heavily affected.
In NL geldt binnenkort het boerka verbod. Wil je wel in zo’n gevangenis-tent rond banjeren, zout dan op naar Qatar of zo.
En val anderen, die zich wel aan de wet houden, er niet mee lastig. https://t.co/QyS70CrfpP
— Marjolein Faber (@pvvfaber) July 18, 2019
The law also bans any clothing which covers the face and makes someone unrecognisable. Full-face motorcycle helmets and ski masks are also covered under this classification.
The ban only applies to public spaces including hospitals, schools, public transport or government buildings. It does not extend to public streets, although law enforcement can require wearers to remove the headdress for identification purposes.
Religious headdress that does not cover the full-face, such as the hijab, is currently still permitted.
What will happen if offenders break the law?
From August 1, any wearer of the restricted items will be asked to remove the offending piece, or leave the location. Police can be called to enforce the law and issue the fine.
The fine is currently €150, but could increase if the offender refuses to leave or causes a public disruption.
Geert Wilders originally campaigned for the fine to be more than 22 times higher.
Mijn versie was een totaalverbod met €3350 boete/12 dagen hechtenis en strenge handhaving.
Linkse anarchistische politici als Halsema en Ollongren willen het niet handhaven noch serieus sanctioneren.
Hier draag je geen burka. Wil je dat wel dan vertrek naar een moslimland! https://t.co/7DJGAoawv7
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) July 18, 2019
What is the reaction from the Islamic community?
Islamic party NIDA has publicised that they will pay the fine for any woman punished for wearing a burka or niqab. Cemil Yilmaz, of the party, has said the law is no more than ‘bullying’ and ‘symbolic politics’.
Yilmaz says the decision to pay the fines from party funds was widely supported by other members. Additionally, members of the community have also come forward to find details on how to donate to the fund.
— NIDA (@NidaRotterdam) July 18, 2019
It is thought that around 150 women in the Netherlands wear a burka or niqab and will be impacted by the ban.
What is the criticism of the law?
The law has been criticised on the grounds that it could further alienate members of society who must wear the niqab or burka for religious reasons. Left parties are concerned that members of the public who would otherwise wear the religious clothing will end up not leaving their house, leaving Muslim women very little space.
Green Party senator Ruard Ganzevoort said the law would force many Muslim women to stay at home more. “They will not have an opportunity to go to school. They will not have an opportunity to go to learn to swim, and all those things.”
What have other countries done about religious headdress?
The ban implemented in the Netherlands is not quite as extreme as neighbouring countries. The United Nations Human Rights committee slammed France last year after the country fined two women who were wearing a full face veil.
Early last year, Austria implemented a ban against headdress in primary schools. Denmark and Belgium are other Western European countries that have also taken measures against the wearing of headdress in public.
What do you think of the burka ban? Is it a valuable attempt towards state security? Or an oppression of the Islamic faith with far-reaching consequences for the women affected? Let us know in the comments below!
Main Image: Jusch on Pixabay.