From the French News Agency
Dutch Muslims have hit out at a proposed government ban of face veils, saying it was over the top, ill-conceived and infringed religious rights.
On Friday the Dutch cabinet said it was proposing a bill banning clothing that covers the face in public, targeting in particular Muslim woman wearing the burqa or niqab.
The burqa is an Islamic veil covering the entire face and body and a mesh screen to see through, while the niqab is a veil covering the face but leaving the eye area clear. The garments are worn by a few dozen women in the Netherlands.
Rita Verdonk, minister of immigration and integration, said the bill proposed a ban on the basis that covering the face constituted a risk to public order and safety.
The ban would be imposed in public and “semi-public” places such as schools, courts, ministries and trains, her spokesman Martin Bruinsma told AFP.
“In this country, we want to be able to see each other. The ban is a question of security,” daily De Telegraaf quoted on Saturday the minister as saying.
But representatives of the country’s Muslim population were unimpressed.
“They are going to have to find a better argument than security. It is an infringement on the freedom of religion,” said Ahmed Markouch, a Moroccan mosques representative.
Europe really doesn’t seem to know how to deal with Muslims. It vacillates between treating them as a politically correct multicultural group that deserves special treatment and deference, and then turning around and depriving them of basic rights of religious expression.