Total burka ban in Netherlands part of ruling VVD party's integration plan

Woman wearing a burqa
Woman wearing a burqaMOD/MOD / Wikimedia Commons

The VVD wants more stringent integration requirements in the Netherlands including a total ban on face covering clothing, like burkas and balaclavas, in public. Wearing face covering clothing makes it more difficult for you to openly meet and greet each other, VVD parliamentarian Malik Azmani emphasizes in a broad integration agenda the ruling party is presenting on Thursday, Het Parool reports.

While ruling with the PvdA these past four years, the VVD managed to ban face-covering clothing in schools, healthcare, government offices and public transport. Azmani now wants to take that even further. "Integration means that you adapt to society, to its norms and values. In our society we find it important that we meet each other openly", he said.

The VVD's integration agenda also includes increasing the term before an immigrant is given Dutch citizenship (naturalization) from five years to 10 years. It should be mandatory for newcomers (immigrants or asylum seekers) to take a job or do volunteer work as part of their integration process. The language requirements should be raised. And it should be possible for citizenship to be revoked if the immigrant commits a crime within five years of being given a Dutch passport, the agenda states, according to the Telegraaf.

"Dutch citizenship should be seen as a crown jewel, as a cherry on the cake. You have to do your absolute best for it", the Telegraaf quotes Azmani saying. He concludes that Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA), responsible for integration as Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, "did not pull out all the stops" to make sure that the integration of the past years' mass influx of refugees went in the right direction. "For example, he should have put more demands on municipalities over the implementation of the integration policy when he gave them extra money because of the influx of refugees", the VVD MP said. "Everyone ultimately benefits from that, because gentle healers make for rotting wounds."

According to Azmani, the VVD did everything in its power to guide the PvdA Minister on the right path over the past years. "But if your coalition partner is the PvdA, you have to be realistic. You can't carry out your whole agenda."

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, is debating the implementation of the so-called participation certificate today. The certificate will be a new part to the integration examination with which immigrants are expected to share the fundamental values of Dutch society. Azmani told the Telegraaf that the VVD will support this proposal. Because while the party doesn't expect it to work wonders, it can at least not do much harm. 

This agenda is released less than a month before the parliamentary elections on March 15th. In tone in fits VVD leader Mark Rutte's nationalist-adjacent  "if you don't like it, then leave" election campaign in which he calls on everyone in the Netherlands to "act normal" or get out of the country.