The Dutch Freedom party PVV on Thursday proposed a prohibition against the wearing in public of the burqa or niqaab (Islamic garments that completely cover women's bodies including their faces), describing them as "an expression of the rejection of fundamental Western values."
The bill presented by the rightist PVV to the Dutch parliament would impose a fine of a maximum of 3350 euros or a maximum of twelve days imprisonment for those wearing such garments.
In addition to claiming the garments form an obstacle against the emancipation and integration of women, the PVV bill also made mention of possible security risks involved with garments covering the face.
Although the Christian Democrats (CDA) - the leading government coalition partner - and the Liberal VVD, one of the larger opposition parties, support prohibiting the burqa and niqaab, it is thought unlikely that the bill would be accepted in its current draft.
The CDA said that any prohibition would be against all garments covering the face, not just against Islamic garments.
"We are not interested in religious expressions, but we want to ensure order and security," legislator Madeleine van Toorenburg of the CDA claimed Thursday.
The VVD and the CDA fear the current draft conflicts with existing anti-discrimination laws.
In 2005, PVV party leader Geert Wilders managed to get a parliamentary majority for his motion calling for a legal prohibition of the burqa.
Rita Verdonk of the Liberal VVD party, then Minister of Justice, announced one year later she would introduce a general prohibition against garments covering the face.
The new government that took office in early 2007 took a different stand, saying it supported only a "preventative prohibition" to be applied only "in situations where it is required for reasons of public order and security, such as for personal identification in public transportation or for school teachers."
Experts estimate the number of women in the Netherlands who wear a niqaab or burqa for religious reasons at "several hundreds."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Temmuz 2007, 19:25