[JURIST] The Netherlands cabinet announced plans Friday to press for a ban on the wearing of the full-length Muslim burqa [Wikipedia backgrounder] and the niqab [BBC backgrounder], the Muslim headscarf for women that leaves only the eyes visible. Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk [official profile in Dutch] said the goverment cannot currently enforce a total ban on the garments because of laws governing religious freedom, which need to be accomodated. No European country currently imposes a comparable total prohibition.
Verdonk, known domestically as the "Iron Lady" for her tough anti-immigration initiatives, first floated [JURIST report] the ban last year, a majority of lawmakers endorsed a ban [NOS report] in December, and the cabinet was initially supposed to take up the issue [JURIST report] in March 2006. Reuters has more.