Netherlands approves ban on face veils in public spaces

Netherlands approves ban on face veils in public spaces
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The Dutch parliament on Tuesday passed a law banning full-face veils in public spaces such as government buildings, a move aimed at restricting the traditionally-Muslim garment.

The ban passed Tuesday includes garments such as the burqa and the niqab, and encompasses public spaces such as public transportation, schools, government offices and hospitals, AFP reports.

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"The Bill proposes a legal ban on wearing clothing that completely covers the face or only shows the eyes, in educational institutions, on public transport, in government institutions and hospitals," the Dutch upper house of parliament said in a statement. It passed by a margin of 44 to 31.

Police officers can also ask travelers walking on the sidewalk to remove veils for identification, though veils are allowed on public streets under the law.

Far-right Dutch politicians hailed the vote as a victory in their battle to "de-Islamize" the country.

"[This is] a historical day because this is the first step to de-Islamise the Netherlands," said Freedom Party Senator Marjolein Faber-Van de Klashorst, according to Al-Jazeera.

Progressives in the country slammed the vote, which they said would force Muslim Dutch citizens out of public view.

"It is completely disproportionate and the only effect will be that many of these women will stay at home even more," said Green Party senator Ruard Ganzevoort, according to AFP.

"They will not have an opportunity to go to school. They will not have an opportunity to go to learn to swim, and all those things."

Neighboring Denmark banned full-face veils from all public spaces last month, becoming the first European country to do so.