In liberal Amsterdam anything goes. But even in our capital you definitely will make a splash with a burqa.
Some people perceive the garment as a middle finger to NW-European society. Others are critical because this kind of dress inhibits the girls-in-black ( and blue) from real participation in and contribution to Dutch society.Which I’m afraid might be true to some extent at least. But till recently I couldn’t imagine the country is in jeopardy because of this phenomenon. The present Dutch government obviously thinks otherwise.
The responsible Dutch minister of the interior, mr Piet Hein Donner published a bill which bans the burqa. Those of the approximately 150 women who are used to cover their faces ( of a total of 17 million inhabitants of The Netherlands) and will not comply, will be fined € 380.- for each offense.
Yet mr Donner is generally considered to be an impeccable man. Very intelligent. Never ever any rumour about extra-marital hanky-panky. Clean to the extreme. Not even a whiff of the fragrance of graft or corruption. An ardent defender of the freedom of religion and a man of principles who factually lives up to them – as far as we know. He is the worthy youngest representative of the proud Donner dynasty of national authorities.
Isn’t it strange? Yes it is.
And even stranger scrutinizing the motivation for the bill.
It should protect our society, though it’s not very clear from what. The parliamentary leader of the conservative-liberals (VVD), Blok, talks about security. The minister himself says covering one’s face is at odds with the way we behave or ought to behave in the public domain: recognizable and approachable. And Geert Wilders claims it is to free oppressed women. And to compatriots of mine who doubt whether 0.0008823 % of the population is sufficient to justify a special law, the minister said that problems with soft drugs would not have been pestering us today if we had not allowed the few hundred marijuana amateurs to go ahead in the sixties. If you think this is a silly comparison, I can’t but answer: yes, you’re right. Perhaps he meant Burqas provide as much good natured pleasure and do as much damage to one’s health. Indeed: 100% body cover may cause a deficiency of D-vitamins, just like smoking pot may cause lung cancer.
Governments have to deal with major problems, minor problems, nano-problems and non-problems. In the Dutch context it goes without saying that the present threat of the economic meltdown in Europe belongs to the first category. And it also goes without saying that politicians in these circumstances never fail to focus on a tiny nano-problem or, even better, on a non-problem. The Burqa-ban is a quasi solution to a non-problem. At best it, perhaps, can be squeezed in as a quasi-solution to a nano-problems. But the bill definitely is a waste of time. Police commanders already said they will not give priority to maintain it once it has become a law.
I’m looking forward to the next Donner-bill.
There will be one, I’m sure. Because Donner overlooked another possibility to save the country. I mean the bill to save us from the threat of the penis sheaths.
Donner, defending his Burqa bill, told the press we can’t allow the burqa, because we don’t allow nudism in the public domain either. If you by the way happen to be looking for the logic of this comparison, you may stop because it was lost for ever. But if we accept the nudism analogy, we can assume penis sheaths will be banned too.
Well, no, I know there have been no reports about men walking around with their sheaths proudly in front of them in and around The Hague, Rotterdam, Delft or Leiden. But it may happen any moment. Just imagine that the third generation Papuans living here, decides to support the separatism of their nephews in the far South-East by presenting their objectionable sheaths to the public. After all actually there is a tiny community of Papuans within the borders of our country since they arrived after some political and military arm-wrestling by President Soekarno, State Secretary Robert Kennedy and Foreign minister Joseph Luns in the early sixties.
These guys probably wouldn’t make a splash in Amsterdam. That city is accustomed to nakedness. But they may create bewilderment and fear in the rest of the country. Specifically in The Hague, where civil servants and the ruling class reside. So I trust mr Piet Hein Donner will protect us from the threat of the horrendous holim too.
(And, if there is any time left, and the ruling class feels like it, perhaps they also can try to do something about the economic meltdown.)