Netherlands to Ban Burqas, Face Coverings

The government of The Netherlands has announced plans to ban the wearing of veils that cover the face of the wearer that will take effect within the year, citing the need to see people's faces when greeting them on the streets. The French immediately scoffed at the announcement, as the law is just a French knock-off.

The Dutch government's trying to pass it off as though ban on face coverings worn in public wasn't expressly designed to target Muslims, that motorcycle helmets in inappropriate contexts will be outlawed under the new rules. Violators will be fined up to 390 Euros (or about US $510).

One government official said that the law was designed to make everything more Dutch. "People should be able to look at each other's faces and recognize each other when they meet," he said.

Although the government says the ban isn't not designed to target Muslim women, it sort of is. About a million of the country's 17 million people are Muslim, but of that segment of the population, only a tiny number of people— estimates range between 100 and 400— will actually be affected by the law. The Dutch aren't being inundated with a crisis of rampant face-hiding. According to Bloomberg, the ban is just a wee bit of political appeasement,

Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), which helps give the Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition a majority in parliament, has set considerable political store on getting the so-called burqa ban passed into law.

Phew! Finally, the government's on the cusp of solving the problems of Dutch people who don't like looking at burqas.

The law offers exemptions for people wearing protective clothing, like firemen and hockey players and babies wearing those fleece sleeves on their faces. People are still allowed to wear face coverings on planes or at religious services. Revelers dressed up for the holidays — say, dressed up like Santa or wearing a Halloween costume — are also exempt.

No word on whether the law applies to people wearing too much makeup, even though it's hard to see someone's face when they're wearing enough foundation to furnish an entire season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Dutch plan ban on Muslim face veils next year [Bloomberg]