Dutch MPs vote to ban burqas, ski masks
A controversial motion to ban burqas, veils, and other “face-covering clothing” from some Dutch public institutions was approved by a majority of parliament on Tuesday. The motion passed by a show of hands, the lower house of parliament confirmed, and will head to the senate for approval.
If approved, violators risk a 400 euro fine. The ban, which also includes ski masks and some motorcycle helmets, covers those entering education facilities, government buildings, health care offices, and public transportation.
“After the elections next March I will implement a full burqa ban,” anti-Islam nationalist politician Geert Wilders said on Twitter. A longtime backer of a burqa ban, which directly affects about two hundred women, Wilders told the Associated Press that Tuesday’s vote was “a step in the right direction.”
Minister of the Interior Ronald Plasterk, who pushed the motion through cabinet in 2015, said people should be able to wear whatever they want. However, those entering the facilities mentioned in the motion should be able to approach one another face-to-face. Plasterk is a member of the left-wing Labour Party, which has been criticized for departing from its leftist base.
The Labour Party has suffered a dramatic loss of public support since the 2012 general election, when it won 38 of 150 seats in the lower house. They would only win about nine seats if elections were to be held today, according to this week’s tracking poll from Maurice de Hond.
Wilders’ party, the PVV, is polling the strongest of all Dutch parties. They would theoretically take 33 seats today, up from 15 in 2012.