Woman wearing niqab kicked off public transit; 1st known enforcement of "Burka Ban"

Woman wearing a burka
Woman wearing a burkaPhoto: Satura_/DepositPhotos

A niqab-wearing woman was forced to leave a public bus operated by Arriva in Stein, Limburg on Monday. The bus driver in question called the police when the woman refused to leave the bus, the public transit firm confirmed to NU.nl and the Telegraaf.

The bus driver asked the woman to get off the bus and stopped the vehicle when she refused to do so, according to NU.nl. The police were called in and responding officers then escorted the woman off the bus. This was "not in accordance with the guidelines", an Arriva spokesperson said.

This is the first known case of a woman being removed from public transport because of the partial ban on face covering clothing act, which took force on August 1st. The law prohibits people from wearing face-covering clothing like burkas, niqabs, helmets or balaclavas in government buildings, education institutions, healthcare facilities, and on public transit.

Public transit drivers are allowed to address someone about wearing a niqab, but may not formally refuse them access, said Pedro Peters, the chairman of public transit association OV-NL. Public transport vehicles should not necessarily be stopped over a single passenger wearing a prohibited item, he said to the newspaper. According to Peters, the rules state that drivers must make a professional assessment of the situation and always have to work in a de-escalating manner.

Recently, the city of Nijmegen apologized to a woman who was refused access to a city-owned playground. Soon after, a man was arrested for wearing a balaclava as a form of protest against the new law. Police later said that arrest was "unjustified."

Those accused of defying the Partial Ban On Face Covering Clothing Act face a fine of 150 euros. The amount of the fine can rise if it is connected to commission of other law violations.