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Dutch government outlines plan to ban burqas in schools

[JURIST] The government of the Netherlands on Tuesday detailed its plans to ban the burqa [JURIST news archive] in and around all primary schools, including Muslim institutions. In a letter to parliament [official website], Education Minister Ronald Plasterk [official website] predicted that a bill to prohibit the head-to-foot garment would be presented to lawmakers next year and could be enacted by 2010. He noted that the legislation would not extend to high schools or universities, which could decide on their own whether to ban the burqa, also known as a niqab, and the measure would not apply to the Muslim hijab, or headscarf. Plasterk said the ban on burqas would promote security and foster teacher-student communication. The Telegraph has more. NIS News has local coverage.

Dutch officials in January announced plans to ban burqas in schools and government offices, rejecting an alternative proposal [JURIST reports] to prohibit wearing them anywhere in public. In 2006, then-Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk announced plans to prohibit the public wearing of face coverings [JURIST report] to ensure security and promote the integration of Dutch society. The proposal was met by protests and was abandoned [JURIST reports] by Verdonk's successor following national elections. It is estimated that only 100 women among the Netherlands' 1 million Muslims wear the burqa. Elsewhere in Europe, France has banned religious clothing and symbols in public schools [JURIST report]. A German court has upheld a similar ban, and the Danish government announced plans [JURIST reports] in May to prohibit judges from wearing religious headscarves.

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