The Netherlands has just created a ban on items of clothing that cover an individual’s face, but there is skepticism as to whether or not it will actually be put into practice.
According to a police statement, the rule applies to any article of clothing that would conceal a person’s face when they’re on public transport, in a school, in a hospital, or in a government building, but it doesn’t apply to public streets. The ban includes burqas, niqabs, motorcycle helmets, and ski masks. Those who don’t abide by the new legislation will be subject to a fine of €150 ($166). Headscarves are not included in the ban as they don’t hide the person’s face.
According to the police, staff in government facilities, schools, hospitals, and public transport will be responsible for enforcing the ban by requesting offenders to either vacate the area or remove the clothing that conceals their face. But spokespeople for these sectors expressed that they wouldn’t assume this responsibility.
Should the ban be imposed by the general public?
The Dutch Federation of University Medical Centers says that hospitals “should not be charged with this task” and enforcing the ban is “up to the police and the judiciary”. Officials in the transport sector said the same thing. However, according to police, anybody who witnesses a breach of the new rule will be authorized to make a citizen’s arrest.
Dutch Member of European Parliament, Samira Rafaela, opposed the notion of citizen’s arrest as she feels it will create unmerited apprehension or even violence towards women wearing burgas and niqabs.
Similar rules have been made in Denmark, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Belgium. Demark’s law – which was established one year ago today – applies to all public places. France’s burqa ban has been in place since 2011.
In October last year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee stated that such bans violate the human rights of Muslim women and they could even restrict them from leaving their homes.