Dutch government to propose burqa ban
The Dutch government agreed Friday to a ban on the burqa, the Interior Ministry said, under a deal with the far-right party of anti-immigration MP Geert Wilders.
"A general ban on wearing face-restrictive clothing in public is on the way," the Interior Ministry said in a statement after a cabinet meeting.
"The proposed legislation will ban the wearing of face-covering clothing in the Netherlands in public places including public buildings, educational institutions, hospitals and public transport," it said in The Hague.
Cabinet's decision, suggested by Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner comes in the wake of an announcement by Wilders last year that the burqa would be banned in the Netherlands.
Wilders's Party for Freedom gives parliamentary support to a right leaning, minority coalition, in exchange for a say in policy making.
"Face-covering clothing is fundamentally against the the character of public discourse where we have to meet each other on an equal footing," the government said Friday.
"It's against the principles of equality between the sexes because the article of clothing is worn only by women," it added.
Even if this may be seen as a restriction on freedom of religion it was "necessary and justified to protect the character and good habits of public life in the Netherlands."
"The sanction for the non-compliance to this ban will be a fine," the statement said, without disclosing the amount.
The ban will not be enforced on planes or for passengers in transit through the Netherlands, it added.
The cabinet's decision will be sent to the highest administrative court, the State Council, for legal advice before being put before parliament for approval.
© 2011 AFP