AMSTERDAM (Reuters) — The Dutch government said Friday that it would ban face-covering veils worn by some Muslim women because the garments flout the Dutch way of life and culture.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte also announced tougher rules for immigrants and asylum-seekers who want to pursue Dutch nationality; in the future, he said, they will have to show that they have income and that they have not received financial assistance or benefits for at least three years.
The country’s reputation as relatively tolerant and open to immigration has changed over the last decade, reflecting voters’ concerns over a large influx of Muslim immigrants.
“The government believes the wearing of clothing that completely or almost entirely covers the face is fundamentally at odds with public life, where people are recognized by their faces,” the government said in a statement.
The new measures reflect the influence wielded by Geert Wilders, a populist politician whose anti-Islam, anti-immigration Freedom Party is the third-largest in the Dutch Parliament.
The government contended that the ban on face-covering veils did not represent a restriction on religious freedom, but that even if it was, it was “necessary and justified in the interest of protecting the character and way of life in the Netherlands.”
Niqabs, which leave the eyes uncovered, and burqas, which cover the face with a cloth grid, are far less commonly seen on the streets of the Netherlands than hijabs, or head scarves, which leave the face exposed. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/world/europe/dutch-to-ban-full-face-veils.html