The Netherlands has approved a limited ban on "face protection clothing" in public places, including Islamic veils and robes such as burqa and niqab, but not the hijab covering only the hair. Right-wing extreme right-wing politician Geert Wilders had pushed the ban for more than a decade.
The Upper Chamber of Parliament voted in a vote on Tuesday.
Wilders & # 39; Freedom Party claimed the development as a great victory, while Senator Marjolein Faber-Van de Klashorst called it "a historic day, because this is the first step to the de-Islamization of the Netherlands."
"This is the first step and the next step is the closure of all mosques in the Netherlands," she said, "Building on Wilder's & # 39; anti-Islam rhetoric."
The Dutch law is described by the government as "religiously neutral" and does not extend to more extensive prohibitions in neighboring countries such as France and Belgium. It applies to public transport and educational institutions, health facilities such as hospitals and government buildings.
Successive Dutch governments have tried to ban niqabs that cover most of the face, but still show the eyes, and burkas that cover the face and body – although studies suggest that only a few hundred women in the Netherlands wear the clothes. The ban also applies to ski masks and full-face helmets.
The government said that people still have the freedom to dress unless it is necessary to have full face contact – for example, in education and health situations. 19659005] The ban does not apply to public roads, although the police may ask an individual to remove facial protective clothing for identification.
"This is actually a virtually complete ban because the only spaces still available for women are facials) are the street and the private sector," said Annelies Moors, a professor of anthropology and sociology at the University of Amsterdam. "And, of course, the private sector can also have its house rules, they could enact laws against their presence, which gives women very little space."
"It is completely disproportionate and the only effect will be that many of these women will remain even more at home," said Green Party Senator Ruard Ganzevoort. "You will not have a chance to go to school, you will not have a chance to learn how to swim and all these things."