From this year onwards, wearing a niqab is officially an offence in the Netherlands, with “stiff fines” as the punishment. In 2012, interior minister Liesbeth Spies and the Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders pushed for a ban on dual nationality, which received mixed support within Parliament.
What do wearing a face-covering veil and having another nationality have to do with each other? According to Liz Fekete, author of A Suitable Enemy: Racism, Migration, and Islamophobia in Europe, before September 11th 2001 the Dutch government was more concerned with the economic integration of specific groups such as the Moroccans and Turks. These communities had migrated to the Netherlands in the 1960s onwards, and were experiencing high levels of unemployment and poverty. At the time, security measures primarily focused on asylum-seekers and immigrants. However, after 9/11, security services took the view that Islam per se constituted a ‘threat’.
This is the view of nativist populist parliament member from the Dutch Freedom Party, Geert Wilders. Wilders is known for his advocacy against immigration from Muslim countries, against the ‘Islamisation’ of the Netherlands and Europe at large, as well as peppering his speech with Arabic words such as jihad, sharia, ummah, and taqiyya to demonstrate how much he claims to know about Islam. Among older people in the Netherlands, he is popular and taken seriously. In 2009, he famously said in an interview with Dutch news site that he was not scared of hijabi Muslims in the Netherlands and was ready to take them on:
“If I was Foreign Minister, I would ban headscarves the day I entered office. And let all the headscarves flap in Malieveld [a field]. I’ll eat them raw.” [Read more...]