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Dutch Parliament Approves Public Burqa Ban Pushed By Far-Right Politician On Trial for Hate Speech

Geert Wilders. Photo via AP
Geert Wilders. Photo via AP

Members of Parliament in the Netherlands voted overwhelmingly today to pass a ban on face-coverings in some public places, including in schools, hospitals, and on public transportation. Though the ban ostensibly includes any face-covering, the transparent intent is to ban burqas and niqabs. The measure was heavily backed by Geert Wilders, the far-right politician being prosecuted for hate speech.

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As the Associated Press reports, the ban was approved by members of the lower house of the Dutch Parliament, and has to be approved the upper house before it’s signed into law. The law will also cover things like ski masks, and does not apply to public streets. Nonetheless, it’s widely understood to be a movement against Islamic dress.

In a text message to the AP, Geert Wilders called the vote “a step in the right direction.” Wilders is the head of the far-right Freedom Party and is currently charged with inciting racial hatred for a rally in 2014 where he asked the crowd if they wanted fewer Moroccans in the country, then promised, “We’ll take care of that.”

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Wilders is pledging that the Freedom Party will sweep the Netherlands’ elections next March and implement a “full ban” on burqas.

The Netherlands previously tried to pass a version of the bill in 2015 and in 2012. The new ban, if signed into law, would carry a fine of 425 euros.

Besides his fixation on women’s clothes, Wilders is also quite excited about Donald Trump, seeing Trump’s victory as a portent of his own: “Trump winning proved to me that people are fed up with politically correct politicians who are concerned and involved with issues that regard themselves but not those that are important to the public.” On Twitter, he called Trump’s win “historic,” writing: “A historic victory! A revolution! We too will give our country back to the Dutch!”

Anna Merlan was a Senior Reporter at G/O Media until September 2019. She's the author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power.

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It will never cease to amaze me how important it is to right wingers to “fight back” against the practice of mandating what women are allowed to wear in public — by mandating what women are allowed to wear in public.

The part where the worst misogynists suddenly become deeply interested in women’s liberation when it allows them to discriminate against Muslims is pretty good, too.