Amsterdam ordered to enforce burka ban; Rotterdam, Utrecht also reluctant

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

Amsterday mayor Femke Halsema must enforce the ban on face-covering clothing, commonly referred to as the burka ban, in the Dutch capital, State Secretary Barbara Visser of Defense said on WNL on Sunday. "No one is above the law", Visser said. "Including the mayor of Amsterdam."

On Friday Halsema said that the enforcement of the burka ban, passed by the Dutch Senate this summer, does not have priority in Amsterdam, Het Parool reports. Amsterdam's scarce resources can better be used for other things, she said. She also doubts whether the ban is proportionate to the problem it sets to solve. "It does not fit with Amsterdam that we take people out of the tram because they wear a nikab", Halsema said during a meeting in yout center Argan. "That's unspeakable, it seems to me."

Amsterdam is not the only Dutch municipality that doesn't plan on giving the burka ban priority, the Volkskrant reports after speaking to the other three large Dutch cities. Utrecht told the newspaper that the city will only act against face-covering clothing if there is "a danger to public order".

Rotterdam police officers will not "specially go onto the street" to enforce the ban. "All laws that apply in the Netherlands also apply in Rotterdam", a spokesperson for Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said to the newspaper. "But it will not be our highest priority either."

A spokesperson for the municipality of The Hague said to the newspaper that it is premature to respond to the new law, but his statement seemed to indicate that The Hague will enforce the burka ban. "We do not find it desirable if each municipality chooses its own path and decides for itself which laws will or will not be enforced."