Netherlands: Stepping into the veil debate

In a discussion in the Dutch parliament, the Minister in Integration, Rita Verdonk, said she thinks burqas should be banned in public. The burka does not fit the integration of Muslims and the emancipation of women.

The Minister of Justice, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, did not want to say if he shares that viewpoint. However he did say that Verdonk spoke from the viewpoint of integration and that a commission of experts which has been set up to advise the cabinet regarding a ban on burqas has a wider mandate. They need to also weigh the basic rights of citizens vs. the opposition that the burqa evokes. They need to examine how the Muslim community sees the burqa. The seven person commission includes jurists as well as an Arabist an an imam.

Verdonk promised the parliament that the commission will advise the cabinet at the beginning of November, after which the cabinet will quickly come to a decision on the matter.

The commission is looking into whether a ban on burqas is possible under the current laws. It is then considering whether the burqa can be banned based on security and public order. The last possibility is to ban the burqa by using current laws such as putting out a general order adding to the law requiring ID.

The politicians had to explain why the kabinet did not comply with the parliament's wish to ban the burqa. The parliament had asked the cabinet to do so last December.

Source: Het Parool (Dutch)

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