Dutch burqa ban legislation row heating up

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The anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), which props up the minority government in parliament, has demanded that the Dutch police enforce the recently approved burqa ban. The PVV has the support of Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten on this issue.

PVV MP Joram van Klaveren was speaking on Sunday in response to remarks made by Amsterdam police chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg on a national TV talk show. Mr Aalbersberg said it should be left up to the police officer on duty to decide whether or not to write out a ticket for a Muslim wearing a burqa or niqab. The police chief added issuing a warning should also be an option.

The burqa ban in the Netherlands has stirred up a national debate. Earlier, other police chiefs from various Dutch corps announced they did not intend enforcing the new law if it were passed. The lower and upper houses of parliament still have to vote on the legislation, which will ban all clothing which covers the face in public.

Burqa part of election deal
The burqa ban was part of the PVV’s election programme and its implementation was part of a deal negotiated by the Freedom Party and the two coalition partners, the conservative VVD and the Christian Democrats. Geert Wilders’ party provides the minority government with parliamentary support . Minister Opstelten is from the largest coalition party, the VVD.

In neighbouring Belgium, the second EU country after France to implement a burqa ban, the campaign of the far-right Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) also stirred up considerable controversy. The daughter of Vlaams Belang leader Philip Dewinter featured on the campaign poster wearing a niqab and a bikini top with the text "Freedom or Islam?"


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