The Dutch government is to use existing legislation to discourage the wearing of the Muslim face veil, but a blanket ban is not legally possible, according to Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
The cabinet decided against a complete ban proposed by the previous centre-right government before it lost power in 2006.
Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst said the cabinet concluded that “Many organisations already have the tools with which they can prohibit the wearing of a burqa.”
However, his government will impose a ban on its civil servants and in schools, plus it will discuss the situation with public transport companies on adding a ban to their terms and conditions.
Family lawyer Fatma Arslan said:
“I am very disappointed that the cabinet has reached this decision because I think it will not have a positive effect on the emancipation process of Muslim women here in the Netherlands.”
France has already banned the wearing of headscarves from state schools and Italy has a decades-old law against covering the face in public as an anti-terrorism measure.