As America debates the role of the hijab in the workplace, Europe continues to pursue bans on Muslim face veils and similar attire. After three years and two coalition governments, the Dutch parliament is poised to approve a ban on the burqa.
Or they sort of are.
Based on a proposal put forth by Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk, the Cabinet in late May approved a measure that would forbid garments that cover the face on public transportation and in hospitals, government buildings, and schools. The ban includes balaclavas and motorcycle helmets as well as burqas and niqabs, which cover a woman's face but not her eyes. In addition, police can require people to remove their veils or helmets for identification purposes at any time. Those who violate the law can be fined up to €405 — significantly more than France's fine of €150, but less threatening than Belgium's penalty of €25 plus as much as a week in prison.