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Dutch News
Kamp predicts row over burqa ban 2/26/2007
23 February 2007

AMSTERDAM - The Freedom Party (PVV) is going to submit a motion to ban the wearing of burqas in public. Faction leader Geert Wilders announced this on Friday in a reaction to statements from Minister for Living, Neighbourhoods and Integration Ella Vogelaar, the Volkskrant reports.

Vogelaar said on a current affairs programme on Thursday evening that she thought women should be allowed to wear a burqa in public. Vogelaar did say however that garments that conceal the face are not advisable in public functions or jobs that involve a lot of personal contact with the public.

Christian democrat CDA MPs Mirjam Sterk and Wim van de Camp have asked the minister to explain what steps she will take to stop the wearing of veils and other concealing clothing in the situations she deems unadvisable. During the last government term the CDA supported a motion to ban burqas in public. The coalition accord however does not state that such a ban will be introduced.

Wilders pointed out that a majority in Parliament has twice urged the cabinet in motions he initiated to arrange a complete ban on wearing burqas in public. “That means not just at work, but also on the street,” Wilders said. He said Vogelaar’s statements were very surprising.

“It’s as if nothing has happened. This is entirely the wrong signal to be sending. Perhaps I’m being a bit naïve, but I assumed that after two motions in Parliament the measure would be carried out,” Wilders said.

Wilders hopes to work with coalition party CDA and opposition party Liberal VVD in preparing the bill. Both these parties have supported Wilders’ motions so far towards banning the wearing of burqas in public. The new coalition parties Labour PvdA and ChristenUnie have opposed the motions.

Minister at the time Rita Verdonk (Liberal VVD) announced last year that a general ban on face-concealing clothing in public areas would be introduced. The new coalition accord however watered down this plan and stated that face-concealing clothing may be banned in the interest of public order and safety.

“If this is the line Vogelaar will be taking then we are in for quite a row in Parliament,” VVD MP Henk Kamp said in a reaction.

“The burqa is the symbol of not participating, of standing on the outside, and of being kept in one’s place. That is the opposite of integration and should be stopped as much as possible,” Kamp said.

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