Muslim group praises burqa ban rebel police chief

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Orthodox Dutch Muslim organisation As-Soennah has welcomed remarks by Amsterdam police chief Bernard Welten that he would not enforce a proposed ‘burqa ban’.

A ban on wearing the full-face veil in public as proposed by the anti-Islam Freedom Party is included in the coalition agreement. But in a TV interview Mr Welten said his force would not arrest women for wearing the burqa or niqab. He admitted this was a form of “civil disobedience”.

On the website, the Salafist As-Soenna group praises Mr Welten's “courageous” remarks, adding “Evidently the Netherlands still has people in prominent positions whom it can be proud of.”

However, Mr Welten has come in for fierce criticism from the coalition parties, the VVD and Christian Democrats. A majority of MPs agree that he should withdraw his remarks and offer an apology.

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders responded via Twitter that Mr Welten “has to enforce the law, and thus the pending burqa ban too, or pack his bags, either voluntarily or involuntarily”.

The head of the Amsterdam professional organisation for police officers, AVP, described the police chief’s remarks as “unwise”. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan, commented that “The law also applies in Amsterdam.”

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