Dutch burqa ban may go after centre-right coalition government falls

By Reuters Staff
April 26, 2012

Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party walks away after a debate about the government's resignation caused by a crisis over budget cuts in The Hague April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Paul Vreeker)

With the collapse of the Dutch centre-right government, the Netherlands may now drop some of its most eye-popping proposals aimed at Muslims and other immigrants and could soften its strong anti-immigration rhetoric.

A ban on Muslim face veils, such as the Arabic-style niqabs that leave the eyes uncovered and Afghan-style burqas that cover the face with a cloth grid, is less likely to go ahead after the government collapsed at the weekend.

The minority Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition’s alliance with Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) fell apart when they could not reach agreement on crucial budget cuts. An election has been called for September 12.

In return for Wilders’ support in parliament, the government had proposed a number of laws, including bans on Muslim face veils and on dual nationality.

If it appears clear that there is no longer a parliamentary majority in favor of such proposals, they could soon be taken “off the table”, said Maurits Berger, professor of Islam in the contemporary West at Leiden University.

“These policies were driven by PVV but also by this government in order to maintain their relationship with PVV. They have turned Holland into a pariah,” Berger said.

“These are the legacy of the PVV. Face veils, dual nationality – both these proposals have not really been thought through.”

The Christian Democrats will no longer support a proposal to ban dual nationality, a source within the party told Reuters. The party also feels uneasy about the face veil ban, Dutch daily De Volkskrant said.

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