Dutch interior minister argues for burqa ban

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"You can't walk down the street naked either. That is the result of our norms about decent behaviour. The Netherlands also has norms which make it advisable to ban clothing which covers your face."

Interior Minister Piet-Hein Donner was speaking during a debate about his integration bill, which would introduce a ban on burqas. Not for security reasons but because "in our society you have to be able to see each other".

One of the main themes of the bill is a shift from the current 'target group' approach to holding individuals responsible for their own integration. Although parliament generally supported this, the minister himself was subject to a great deal of criticism from the opposition.

Green Left MP Tofik Dibi called the bill "a wrongheaded story" and "reheated mush from the most elastic minister ever". Minister Donner was accused of simply attempting to please the Geert Wilders' anti-Islamic Freedom Party, on which the coalition depends for support. The Labour Party's Marcel van Dam commented, "He's torn between what he believes and what he has to say to placate his support partner."

Minister Donner replied that the politicians should have more faith in social processes.

"When I was at school there was a much deeper segregation - between Protestant and Catholic - and that has now disappeared."

(imm/ae)

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