In a weekly meeting with the press, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has backed remarks made yesterday by Queen Beatrix that it is "nonsense" to say the Islamic headscarf is a symbol of women's oppression.

The queen's words were made in response to criticism by the Freedom Party (PVV) becasue she entered the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi wearing a headscarf over her hat. One of the reasons behind their criticism was because PVV MPs claimed in doing so she "legitimised the oppression of women".

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal told journalists on Thursday that it was customary for the queen to comply with local traditions when on state visits.

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