Veil to be banned on Dutch buses?

De Volkskrant has the latest on the continuing political saga of whether, and to what extent, burqas should be banned in the Netherlands. Despite the fact that there’s only a limited number of women wearing this type of garment, the issue keeps stirring up strong political sentiments.

Earlier, the cabinet agreed that burqas would be banned for government workers and at schools. On Friday, the government is expected to announce that burqas will also be banned from public transport. And for those of you cynical enough to believe that all of this has anything to do with Islamophobia, the ban, if introduced, will also apply to balaclavas and crash helmets.

De Volkskrant writes that a ban on burqas was first proposed by Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders in 2005, but the previous cabinet never got round to it as a result of internal divisions.

The current government coalition has decided against a general ban on burqas, arguing that a ban is only justified when the garment in question “seriously hampers integration and communication”.

However, when this is the case, societal interests outweigh religious freedoms such as the wearing of burqas. It will come as no surprise that the Freedom Party does not think the ban is going far enough, and has submitted a bill banning the wearing of burqas not only in all public spaces, but also at home.

Expatica, 7 February 2008