Dutch Burka ban looms after study
20 October 2006, AMSTERDAM — Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is in favour of imposing a ban on the wearing of a burka in public spaces.
20 October 2006
AMSTERDAM — Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is in favour of imposing a ban on the wearing of a burka in public spaces.
The Liberal VVD told MPs on Thursday night the face-covering clothing is a symbol of division (between the West and Islam) and was not in harmony with the integration of Muslims and the emancipation of women.
But Christian Democrat CDA Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin refused to confirm after the parliamentary debate whether he supported Verdonk's proposal, stressing that now was not the time for differences in opinions between ministers.
However, Hirsch Ballin also said Verdonk was speaking from an integration perspective, while the commission of seven experts that was advising the Cabinet about a possible burka ban had a broader focus.
The commission will need to balance the constitutional rights of citizens against the public opposition against the burka. How the Islamic community views the burka will also need to be assessed.
The commission — which includes lawyers, an Arabist and an imam — must issue recommendations to government ministers at the start of November. The Cabinet will then make a decision, Verdonk said.
One of the options being studied is whether a general ban on the burka is possible under current regulations. It will then also be assessed whether a ban wearing a burka can be justified based on issues of safety and public order.
The final option is whether a ban can be imposed via existing regulations such as a general local ordinance or compulsory identification laws.
Government ministers had been called back to the Parliament to explain why they had not yet imposed a ban on the burka, as demanded by MPs in December at the initiative of Geert Wilders. It had previously been revealed that the cabinet was divided over the issue.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news