Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk proposed legislation on Friday that would ban the burqa, a head-to-toe garment for women to wear in public, and other full face coverings, such as ski masks and full-face helmets. The Dutch legislature asked Verdonk to draft the legislation late last year, though it is not clear when the legislature will vote on the issue. Verdonk claims that the law does not conflict with religious freedom laws, though it will likely be challenged in the courts if it is passed. Approximately 50 to 100 people in the Netherlands wear the burqa regularly, according to the New York Times.
The proposed ban has caused angry reactions from the Muslim community, who feel that writing a law for such a small number of people is an "over-reaction to a very marginal problem," said CMO, the most prominent Muslim group in the Netherlands, according to the BBC. Verdonk has said the law is necessary "for reasons of public order, security, and protection of citizens," in a formal statement, according to the Associated Press. Ease of communication was also cited as another reason for the proposed ban, the Associated Press reports.
Media Resources: Associated Press 11/20/06; DPA 11/18/06; Al Jazeera 11/18/06; BBC 11/18/06; New York Times 11/17/06