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Amsterdam City Council pushes for end of nationwide burqa ban

People stroll in the center of Amsterdam city, Netherlands, on April 16, 2022, during the Easter week. - Netherlands OUT (Photo by Ramon van Flymen / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo by RAMON VAN FLYMEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
People stroll in the center of Amsterdam city, Netherlands, on April 16, 2022, during the Easter week [RAMON VAN FLYMEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images]

Local leaders in Amsterdam have taken an important step to encourage scrapping the burqa (face-covering clothing) ban in the Netherlands, which came into force in 2019, Anadolu News Agency reports.

On 14 September, the City Council in the Netherlands' capital and largest city passed a proposal to repeal the burqa ban, as many call it. The proposal has no legal force, but was accepted with a large majority of 35-10 on the Amsterdam City Council, and next Mayor, Femke Halsema, will convey it to the Dutch Parliament.

City Council members, Sheher Khan and Suleyman Koyuncu from the Denk Party spoke to Anadolu Agency on the successful proposal, which was originally made by their party.

Koyuncu said that the main purpose of the ban is to prevent Muslim women from wearing veils or burqas, adding: "After this ban was introduced, people wanted to interfere with veiled Muslims and complain to the police."

He added that the next step after the City Council passed the proposal to encourage repealing the law was Halsema submitting it to Parliament in the nation's administrative capital, The Hague.

Discrimination, violence against Muslim women

Saying that around 100 women wear face veils in the Netherlands, Koyuncu said they saw an increase in the cases of discrimination and violence against veiled Muslims.

Adding that women who wear face veils are insulted and face verbal and physical interference, Koyuncu said that, in the early years of the ban, some Dutch people detained Muslims wearing face veils under the guise of "civil arrest", until the police arrived.

'We aim to halt rising Islamophobia in Europe'

Saying the law was introduced under pressure from far-right Dutch parties, Koyuncu said: "We aim to halt the rising Islamophobia in the Netherlands and Europe through Parliament accepting the motion."

Khan added that, though the law seems to be for the general public, in fact, it targets Muslim women in particular.

Law is ineffective

Saying that the law has not been enforced for the past three years, Khan said that no veiled Muslim has, so far, been punished under the law.

As the police have never sanctioned anyone under the law for wearing a veil, the law is "ineffective," he said.

Saying that the law, which imposes fines on veiled women, is already obsolete in practice and that it causes restrictions beyond its purpose, fuelling hatred and discrimination against Muslim women, he stressed: "For this reason, we want the law repealed."

Dutch academics oppose ban

University of Amsterdam anthropologist, Martijn de Koning told Anadolu Agency that, over the years, many religious arrangements had been made in the Netherlands but, with the ban, these steps began to target Muslims.

Annelies Moors, an anthropologist and sociologist, also at the University of Amsterdam, said: "Such restrictions trigger violence and discrimination against Muslims in society."

Tendayi Achiume, the UN Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, added: "This law has no place in a society that prides itself on promoting gender equality."

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