28 January 2012
Following last week’s announcement that the Dutch cabinet had adopted a ban on face coverings despite the grave reservations of the government’s advisory body and highest court, media coverage has reported a range of response.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that the chair of the police works council has criticized the ban as ‘symbolic policy’ and feels that it is unlikely to have practical benefits. Security and Justice Minister Yvo Opstelten responded to the comments by noting that once approved, police will be obliged to enforce the ban.
The Jerusalem Post notes several instances of women condemning the ban, including those who feel that it would encourage more women to don a burqa. Fatima Elatik, a practicing Muslim of Moroccan descent who is district mayor of East Amsterdam. Elatik opposes the ban on this basis. The same article reports that a politician for the country’s Green Left party is calling upon ‘all women’ to wear a burqa as a form of protest to the ban.
Meanwhile, a comic who responded to the controversy by creating farcical online dance video ‘Do the Burqa’ has faced threats.
Last week’s adoption by the Dutch cabinet considerably furthered the likelihood of the ban passing into law. However, the ban must still pass a vote in parliament before becoming law.
The Christian Democrats (CDU) in the German state of Hesse have reignited the debate about a burqa ban in Germany. CDU-politician Alexander Bauer presented the main ideas of the CDU’s integration policy on Thursday; while the party acknowledges Germany’s immigration reality and the diversity amongst Germany’s population, they are also inclined to impose a ban on full-face veils, as people have to be willing to “show their face” if they live in Germany.
The state parliament in Lower Saxony discussed the potential introduction of a burqa ban for civil servants. The coalition government’s proposal to introduce such a ban in 2012 has been harshly criticized by the opposition of SPD, Green Party, and Left-Wing Party. The mosque association Schura described the proposal as “hysteria”, as there is currently no civil servant wearing or intending to wear a burqa.
16 September 2011
In coverage of the burqa ban making its way through the Dutch cabinet, Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries an article about Rachid Nekkaz. The French entrepreneur has established a million-euro fund in France to pay the fines of women wearing burqas, which in the Netherlands will cost 380 Euros. Mr. Nekkaz, a Muslim with an Algerian background, thinks the bans violate European constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms, and announced that his organization Touche Pas a Ma Constitution will also help Dutch women if the ban is introduced.
16 September 2011
The Dutch government has agreed to a ban on the burqa under a deal with Geert Wilders’ PVV Party. The Interior Minister announced that “a general ban on wearing face-restrictive clothing in public is on the way” and will be in effect in public buildings, educational institutions, hospitals and public transport. The government statement indicated that face covering is “fundamentally against the character of public discourse where we have to me each other on an equal level” and is a necessary and justified restriction on freedom of religion “to protect the character and good habits of public life in the Netherlands”. The sanction for non-compliance will be a fine.
News Agencies – August 19, 2011
In a civil protest against Muslim face veil ban in France and Belgium, French businessman Rachid Nekkaz has set up a fund to pay fines for Muslim women who choose to don niqab in public. “I’m in favor of a law to convict a husband who forces a women to wear the niqab and who forces her to stay at home,” told reporters outside the courtroom in Belgium, “But I’m also for a law that lets these women move freely in the streets, because freedom of movement, just like any freedom, is the most fundamental thing in a democracy.”
Nakkaz, a 38-year-old real-estate businessman based in Paris, travelled to Belgium to pay 100 euros for two women fined in the first case in the country since the law was adopted there. Earlier he paid a 75 euro fine for a woman in the north-eastern French town of Roubaix.
16 July 2011
Following a description of Muslim women who wear burqa as ‘scum’ in an online clip, Dutch Parliamentary Aide Sam van Rooy of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) has been suspended. The footage has since been removed from YouTube, and a PVV spokeswoman noted that the clip “goes much to far”.
29 June 2011
Dutch Home Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner announced during the recent parliamentary debate over integration that the burqa is ‘against Dutch norms and manners’. Just as individuals are not permitted to walk around the streets naked, they should be prevented from wearing the burka. According to coverage in the Telegraaf, then, the proposed ban has less to do with public safety that with a “Dutch” value that “in our society you should be able to see each other”.
Some British tabloids reported that a French Muslim couple use ‘British taxpayer cash’ (Daily Mail) to fight the burqa ban in France. Following the introduction of the ban in April this year, the couple moved to Britain to avoid consequences from the new legislation. Now based in the West Midlands, the couple utilized the British Immigration Advisory Service, a free legal service supported through taxes, to challenge the French ban at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Not only do they see their freedom of choice restricted; they also consider the ban to restrict their free movement rights within the EU, as they cannot live and work in the country of their choice – while also freely manifesting their religious beliefs in public. The couple’s case leaves the Immigration Advisory Service in a difficult position. According to a spokesman, the IAS mainly represents asylum seekers and other migrants who cannot afford legal aid privately. Furthermore, the Service only gave legal aid to cases involving British law and concerned with immigration. Even if IAS decided to represent the couple, the service would not be paid for by legal aid.
The fashion industry has always thrived on pushing the envelope — but the latest accessory gracing the runways and magazine editorials is the increasingly controversial burqa, or a traditional Islamic headdress.
Some, apparently, are concerned that presenting religious garments as “exotic” novelty items strips these of their intended purpose, or diminishes what some view as the oppression inherent in being forced to don such clothing. Then again, still others express joy that conservative Muslim women can also be seen as fashionable or elegant (while avoiding being simultaneously sexualized by the fashion industry).
Fox’s article, lists several instances of the conservative Muslim garb finding its way among the pages of fashion magazines like French Vogue – noting, of course, that France recently banned burqas (which covers the wearer’s body from head to foot) and niqabs (which is a veil that covers the wearer’s face), making headlines from European runways, and even parading across the set of Bill Maher’s show, then asks, “But is turning these conservative Islamic garments into a fashion statement a novel idea or simply tasteless?”