The Dutch parliament has voted to ban the burka on public transport and in public buildings.

The limited ban on ‘face-covering clothing’, including Islamic veils and robes, was approved by a large majority in the 150-seat lower house.

The legislation must be approved by the upper house to be passed into law.


The Dutch proposal, which is described by the government as ‘religion-neutral,’ does not go as far as the complete bans in countries such as France and Belgium.

It applies on public transport and in educational institutions, hospitals and doctors surgeries, and government buildings.

Studies suggest that only a few hundred women in the Netherlands wear niqabs or full-face burkas.

However, successive governments have attempted to ban the Islamic veils, following the example of countries such as France and Belgium.

In a debate last week, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk, from the center-left Labor Party, acknowledged that debate about the burka had played a major role in the vote on the ban.

He said that in a free country like the Netherlands people should be allowed to appear in public with their faces covered, if they want to.


However, Plasterk said that in government buildings, schools and hospitals people need to be able to look each other in the face.

Geert Wilders, leader of the far right Party For Freedom, called the limited ban, ‘a step in the right direction’.

He said said he will push for a full burka ban if his party wins elections in March.

The maximum fine for breaching the ban, which also covers ski masks and full-face helmets, will be just over 400 euros ($425).