Netherland's 'burqa ban' not being enforced as law goes into effect

Netherland's 'burqa ban' not being enforced as law goes into effect

A new law in the Netherlands banning face coverings in certain public areas went into effect Thursday, but police and officials to this point have been largely unwilling to enforce it.

As part of the Partial Ban on Face-Covering Clothing Act, wearing ski masks, full-face helmets, balaclavas, niqabs and burqas is not allowed in public buildings, including schools and hospitals and on public transport, according to The Guardian.

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However, Pedro Peters, spokesperson for the RET transport network, said police have already told him and other transportation companies that they will not focus on enforcement of the new law.

“The police have told us the ban is not a priority and that therefore they will not be able to respond inside the usual 30 minutes, if at all,” Peters said.

He added that it essentially means if a person wearing a burqa or a niqab is challenged trying to use a service, "our staff will have no police backup to adjudicate on what they should do. It is not up to transport workers to impose the law and hand out fines.”

Fines for a first-time offense can run as high as 150 euros and individuals can be arrested for refusing to uncover their faces under the law.

Netherlands in 2016 became the sixth European country to pass a law prohibiting face-coverings in public buildings or transport.

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema has already expressed her displeasure with the law and made clear that the city’s police will largely ignore it.