[Immigration Minister Rita] Verdonk insisted the burqa was not an acceptable part of public life in the Netherlands.Because we are so tolerant... It's an interesting perspective. You claim to be tolerant, but then you want to prevent people from doing something their religion motivates them to do. Obviously, some things motivated by religion really are so harmful to public order that a ban shows no disrespect toward religion. (For example: murder.) The question is where to draw the line, and hiding one's face is not an obvious harm. Verdonk cites the need to interact and communicate, and people who cover their faces do seem to be excluding others. Yet, it is part of freedom to decline to interact with other people as you go about your life, walking around in public, and it's a common thing to dress in a way that signals to people you are not open to interaction. But if you lived in a place where more and more people were entirely hiding their faces and signaling exclusion of others, life would feel scarily different. At what point would you want to use government power to make them stop?
"The Cabinet finds it undesirable that face-covering clothing - including the burqa - is worn in public places for reasons of public order, security and protection of citizens," she said.
Critics of the proposed ban say it would violate civil rights.
The main Muslim organisation in the Netherlands, CMO, said the plan was an "over-reaction to a very marginal problem", the Associated Press reported.
But the minister told the BBC that social interaction would be easier if faces were not covered.
"It is very important that we can see each other and can communicate with each other. Because we are so tolerant we want to respect each other."
November 18, 2006
That's the proposal in the Netherlands: