Burqa ban in Dutch playgrounds

Burqa ban in Dutch playgrounds

10th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Burqa ban in Dutch playgrounds

The burqa is to be banned in Dutch schools. Pupils and teachers have to be able to see each other's faces, says Education Minister Ronald Plasterk, but Arabist Maurits Berger believes a ban on burqas in the Netherlands is going too far.
The ban will not just apply to the classroom, but will include the area around the school. This means parents, cleaners and anyone coming to the school in a burqa - worn by orthodox Islamic women to cover their bodies from head to toe, including the face - will not be allowed onto the school grounds.
All schools will have to comply with the ban, even Islamic schools which do not receive government funding. Only universities and colleges will be exempt, as education is not compulsory after the age of 16. 

Hijabs, headscarves covering the head but not the face, are commonplace in the Netherlands but are not included in the ban. In France, all forms of religious expression are banned in schools.

Wearing a veil over the face inhibits proper communication, according to the minister. He believes it is necessary to ban burqas in schools: 

"You have to send your children to school, there is no getting out of it. Besides the children are in their formative years. It gives the school the power to say 'Don't wear a balaclava, burqa or other garment covering the face when you are on school property'."Teachers have to be able to see how a pupil is feeling or how they react when issues are discussed in the classroom or in the playground, says Mr Plasterk. But it is not just education which will be affected. In the future, civil servants will be banned from wearing garments which cover the face. The government hopes provincial and town councils will follow suit, and burqas will be banned from public transport.
Political measures
Mr Berger does not believe a burqa ban is a good idea. He estimates only a few hundred women wear a burqa in the Netherlands, and thinks a government ban goes too far: 

"It seems to me to be a political measure rather than a necessary one."However, in some cases Mr Berger says a ban can be useful: 

"In Egypt, the issue was a hot topic 15 years ago. There was a lot of commotion because a minister imposed a ban at universities. More and more girls were wearing burqas. Some were dressing their older brothers in a burqa so they could sit their exams." 
That sort of thing is not going on here, says Mr Berger, and that is why a ban goes too far: 

"It is not about traffic offences, it's about behaviour. If you try to regulate behaviour, you are doing the same as governments in a theocracy. And you have to watch out for that." 
Minister Plasterk plans for the ban to be imposed by mid-2009.

Arwen van Grafhorst
10 September 2008
Radio Netherlands 

0 Comments To This Article