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The burqa ban in the Netherlands, a «discriminatory» law to Dutch-Moroccans

Put in place on August 1st, the new burqa ban is seen as a «discriminatory» law by Dutch-Moroccans living in the Netherlands. Passed in 2018, the law was dubbed «Islamophobic» and provocative to the Muslim community in the country.

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A woman with a burqa. / Ph. DR

On August 1st, a burqa ban came into force in the Netherlands, prohibiting Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in some public places. The law, passed in 2018, imposes a fine of 150 euros on burqa and niqab-wearing women in several facilities, including hospitals and schools.

While the new law stirred controversy in the European country, with people who think that it is an inapplicable measure, Muslims and Moroccans living in the Netherlands see the ban as «provocative and Islamophobic».

«Opinions differ, when it comes to this new law», Dutch-Moroccan human rights activist Abdou Menebhi told Yabiladi. «Some people see it as a religious duty that must be fulfilled and others believe that it is a far-right campaign that targets Muslims and provokes them», he said.

To the Moroccan activist based in Amsterdam, the ban is a very exaggerated reaction to the issue, as he argues that far-rights politicians and nationalists would be using it as a political card. «The far-right believes that the burqa ban is a victory» to their politics, promising that this will be followed by «a headscarf ban» and then the «chasing of Muslims».

«Everyone has got the right to choose their clothes», Menebhi pointed out, stressing that banning the garment is not a solution but only a way of deepening differences.

Discrimminating against women and opressing their choices

The same idea was shared by Moroccan-Dutch historian and public-speaker Nadia Bouras. «The burqa ban is not solving problems because we should first define what the problem is», she told Yabiladi.

To the researcher who is interested in the history of Moroccan migration in the Netherlands, the law is «rooted in Islamophobia». «The ban was proposed 14 years ago by Geert Wilders», said Bouras, referring to the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), a Dutch nationalist party.

«It took a lot of time to implement this law and although it prohibits face-covering in many ways (masks, helmets …) we all know that it is initially against Muslim women», Bouras explained. «When we talk about women with burqas, we are already addressing a very small minority within a minority that is already confronted to Islamophobia», she added.

To the researcher, this law does not only involve Islamophobia but also misogyny and the urge of «policing women about their bodies». Bouras believes that in addition to «restricting some women’s mobility», the law is enhancing that «patriarchal structure».

«The ban is also about women’s rights and decisions they want to make about their own bodies», she said, adding : «you don’t have to like burqa to be against this law».

Dutch-Moroccan social innovation entrepreneur and marketing manager Ahmed Larouz is also against the new law. To him, the burqa ban is «illogical, discriminatory and against human rights». He told Yabiladi that «democracy plays a major role» in this issue, especially as «citizens, even those who are against the law, remain silent». «We allow right-wing extremists to present similar laws», he regretted. 

«There are Muslims who say they are against the burqa, but this law has nothing to do with personal opinions. We live in a democratic country where people’s rights must be respected», he said, adding that the «same way we respect women who do not wear the veil, we have to show respect for those who wear burqa, especially as it is a choice. The real oppression is to dictate women».

Denouncing the way in which the law was presented and how it was linked to security and terrorism threats, Larouz stressed that «although burqa-wearing women belong to a small group, they shouldn’t be discriminated against».

«We need to strengthen our political participation and make our voices heard, instead of boycotting elections», he concluded.

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