Partial Dutch ban on face-covering clothing comes into force

The Hague: A new Dutch law has come into force banning face-covering clothing – including the burqa and niqab worn by conservative Muslim women – on public transport, in government buildings and at health and education institutions.

The Netherlands, long seen as a bastion of tolerance and religious freedom, is the latest European country to introduce such a ban , following the likes of France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Denmark. Muslim and rights groups have voiced opposition to the law – formally called the “partial ban on face-covering clothing” – and an Islamic political party in Rotterdam has said it will pay the 150-euro (USD 167) fines for anybody caught breaking it. Very few women in the Netherlands wear a burqa or niqab and it is unclear how strenuously the law will be enforced.