The Dutch House of Representatives [official website, in Dutch] voted [voting results, in Dutch] in favor of a proposed partial ban on facial covers [text, PDF, in Dutch] on Tuesday, including niqabs and burkas worn by many Muslim women. Of the 12 political parties represented in the Netherlands, nine have endorsed [Tagesschau report, in German] the ban, which could be signed into law as early as this week. The ban would apply in public places such as buses, hospitals and schools, and would also include items such as ski masks and motorcycle helmets. Violations would result in a fine up to 400 euros. Opponents of the bill say it targets Muslim women and religious freedom [Independent report]. It is estimated that between 100 and 400 Muslim women wear niqabs and burkas in the Netherlands.
Face veils and other symbols of religion have been a controversial subject around the world. In July, the European Union’s [official website] highest court ruled in favor [JURIST report] of a French woman who was fired for wearing a head scarf. Last year the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] in favor of a Muslim woman who was denied a job [JURIST report] at Abercrombie & Fitch [corporate website] because of her headscarf. In September 2015 a Canadian court ruled that women may be allowed to wear [JURIST report] face-covering veils while swearing the oath of citizenship after an individual sued the country because she was not allowed to take part in the ceremony. Also in 2015, after suicide bombings in Fotokol by two women wearing burkas, Northern Cameroon banned [JURIST report] women from wearing burkas and face-covering veils as the bombs had been smuggled into public under veils.