For years, politicians in the Netherlands have threatened to ban the burqa, the full-face covering worn by Muslim women. The threats have finally become a reality. Following the lead by France and Belgium, countries that already have such a ban in effect, the Netherlands became the third European nation to ban full-face coverings in public. Offenders can be fined up to 390 euros for wearing the covering, although it remains to be seen whether or not the police in the Netherlands will enforce the ban after the Amsterdam Police Chief announced in public earlier this year that he would not enforce such a ban.
Estimates of women who wear the full-face cover in the Netherlands hover between 100 and 400. Those women would probably be forced by their male guardians to stay inside. However, over the weekend, Karin Dekker, a politician for the (Leftist) Green Party called on all women to wear the burqa as a protest. Muslim politicians, such as the 39-year old female district major of East Amsterdam, Fatima Elatik, said, “I’m no fan of [it], … [but] banning it might make it more popular.”
France passed a similar ban last April, siting reasons of gender equality and dignity of women. Dutch politicians, in contrast, point to safety issues when face coverings are worn in inappropriate places – both for the person wearing the covering and for the public at large.
Belgium’s ban went into effect in July.