The first step

So much for “liberal” Netherlands:

The Netherlands may become the first European country to ban Muslim face veils after its government pledged yesterday to outlaw the wearing in public spaces of the niqab, or veil, and the burka, or full-length cloak covering the head.

The right-leaning coalition said last night that it would look for a way to outlaw the wearing of all Muslim face veils. The grounds for a ban were laid last December when parliament voted in favour of a proposal to criminalise face coverings, as part of a security measure proposed by a far-right politician, Geert Wilders.

Rita Verdonk, the immigration minister, signalled that the government would now push for a total ban, even though the legislation would be likely to contravene Dutch religious freedom laws.

“The cabinet finds the wearing of a burka undesirable … but cannot at present enforce a total ban,” the Dutch news agency ANP quoted her as saying after a cabinet meeting.

Excuse me? Some people find the burka “undesirable”? Then look the other way. The kind of society that legislates against religious identification can no longer call itself a true democracy.

Besides, how can this move truly assist the Muslim population to feel more welcome in the community?