Dutch senate passes law enabling partial ‘burqa ban’

Participants stand silent during a flash mob event which called on Muslims and non-Muslims to cover their face in protest of the European burqa ban. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 26 June 2018

Dutch senate passes law enabling partial ‘burqa ban’

  • The Netherlands approves a limited ban on "face-covering clothing" in public places
  • It includes Islamic veils and robes such as the burqa and niqab but not the hijab, which covers only the hair

THE HAGUE: Dutch senators overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday to ban the Islamic full-face burqa from some public places such as schools and hospitals, ending years of discussion on a hot-button issue.
“The Senate has agreed with the bill,” the upper house of parliament said in a statement on its website.
“The bill proposes a legal ban on wearing clothing that completely covers the face or only shows the eyes, in educational institutions, on public transport, in government institutions and hospitals,” it said.
The bill was approved by 44 to 31 votes in the 75-seat Senate and is the final hurdle before it becomes law.
It was supported by three of the four political parties in Prime Minister Mark Rutte ruling coalition, apart from the progressive D66 party which voted against.
Dutch Internal Affairs Minister Kajsa Ollongren — who is herself a D66 member — will now talk to government bodies such the police about how to implement the ban which carries a fine of some 400 euros ($466).
The Dutch cabinet approved the plan in mid-2015 but then decided not to go as far as banning burqas on the country’s streets.
Dutch approval follows similar bans imposed in Austria, Belgium, France and Germany and comes amid rising tensions in Europe with Islamic communities.
France was the first European country to ban the full-face veil in public spaces in April 2011.
The European Court of Human Rights upheld that burqa ban in 2014, rejecting arguments that outlawing full-face veils breached religious freedom.
The law has resulted in some 1,600 arrests since it came into force and violations can result in fines of up to 150 euros.

South Korea mulls sending own ships to Strait of Hormuz

Updated 19 January 2020

South Korea mulls sending own ships to Strait of Hormuz

  • Seoul wants to avoid feud with Tehran over international maritime alliance

SEOUL: South Korea is considering sending its own ships to the Strait of Hormuz to safeguard its vessels rather than joining an international maritime security alliance, a presidential aide has said.

Around 70 percent of its oil imports pass through the waterway, making it crucial for the country’s ships to be protected from piracy and other threats.

But, amid tension in the Middle East following the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani from a US airstrike and in a bid to avoid a feud with key oil producer Iran, the South might send its own naval unit to the strait.

“Internally, there has been considerable progress (about the Hormuz dispatch),” Noh Young-min, presidential chief of staff, told a local radio program following a National Security Council meeting. “We should make efforts to protect the lives and properties of our people and companies in the region, as well as safeguard freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.”

Talks with Iranian authorities were also underway to defuse diplomatic problems, he added.

“We’re going to explain the issues (to Iran) in advance,” Noh said, responding to a question about a possible rift between Seoul and Tehran should a ship be sent to the strait. “We hope bilateral relations will not be affected.”

The anti-piracy Cheonghae Unit is operating in the Gulf of Aden and is likely to extend its mission to the Strait of Hormuz once a decision is made.

South Korea has not indicated it will join the US-led “Operation Sentinel” coalition guarding the strait, despite insistence from President Donald Trump’s administration that it shoulder some of the costs.

In a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-hwa on Tuesday in Palo Alto near San Francisco, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for collective maritime security efforts.

“Overall, (Pompeo) emphasized the importance of collective efforts by the international community,” a top South Korean diplomat told reporters, asking not to be named.

The diplomat said Pompeo pointed to the repercussions for the global economy from instability in the Strait of Hormuz, including a hike in oil prices, and stressed the need for all countries to contribute to bringing stability to the region.

Operation Sentinel’s members include Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UK and Albania, with leadership and headquarters coordination provided by US Naval Forces Central Command.