AMSTERDAM - The Netherlands plans to ban facial veils in public places, with women clad in burqas that cover their faces risking a fine of as much as $523.
“Wearing clothes that partly or almost fully cover the face fundamentally breaches the character of social interaction, during which we meet each other with a recognizable visage equally,’’ the Dutch government said in a statement on its website yesterday.
The ban was first proposed in 2005 by Geert Wilders, who now leads the anti-Islam Freedom Party that supports Prime Minister’s Mark Rutte’s minority government of Liberals and Christian Democrats. The Cabinet deems a possible restriction of freedom of religion necessary and justified in the interest of the protection of the character and good customs of public life in the Netherlands, the government said.
A French law banning facial veils in public places went into effect in April, meaning women wearing burqas with their faces covered in France risk a more-than $200 fine. Neighboring Belgium also introduced a ban this year.
In 2006, data from the Dutch statistics bureau showed the Netherlands has about 850,000 Muslims, most of Turkish or Moroccan origin. The country’s population is 16.7 million.