The House of Representatives in the Netherlands has voted in favor of prohibiting the face-covering burqa and niqab in some public places. The government has insisted the move is soley for security purposes.
The lower house of Dutch parliament on Tuesday approved by a wide margin a partial ban on wearing face-covering garments. The law, which follows similar legislation in Belgium and France, now moves on to the Senate before it can become law.
"The law is adopted," said House Speaker Khadija Arib after 132 of the 150-member chamber voted in favor of the bill.
This new measure forbids Islamic religious garb like the burqa and niqab, as well as ski masks and face-hiding helmets in public places where individuals may need to be identified, such as schools, hospitals, government buildings and public transport. The government had already pulled back from an earlier plan to also forbid the face-covering veil on the street.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's cabinet had originally proposed the measure in 2015, saying there was a "necessity to be able to interact face-to-face, for instance in places where public services are performed and safety must be guaranteed."
People are not forbidden from wearing full-face protection while working, playing a sport or participating in a "festive or cultural event."
A full ban on wearing the burqa or niqab has been one of the major platform points of the right-wing populist Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, which is polling favorably ahead of the March 2017 parliamentary election.
es/msh (AP, AFP)