A new law in the Netherlands took effect banning face-covering clothing, including niqab and burqa, in schools, hospitals and on public transport.
The law would ban garments worn by Muslim women, forcing them to remove their face coverings in government buildings and in education and health institutions.
However, the ban could be unworkable as transport companies and hospitals signaled it wasn’t their priority to enforce the new law.
According to officers, authorities want to avoid women covered in veil being put off from going to a police station.
The Netherlands is the latest country in Europe to introduce such a ban, after the likes of Denmark, Austria, Germany, France, and Belgium.
Rights group and Muslims have voiced opposition to the law. An Islamic political party in Rotterdam also said it will pay the fines for people caught breaking it.
There were no reports of anyone being fined under the new law. The national federation of academic hospitals said that enforcement is up to prosecutors and police.
“We are not aware of any cases in which wearing face-covering clothing or a possible ban has led to problems,” it added.
The head of the organization of public transport companies also said that train conductors and bus drivers do not have the power to enforce the law.
A spokesperson for the RET transport network, Petro Peters, said the law was unworkable.
“The police have told us the ban is not a priority and that therefore they will not be able to respond inside the usual 30 minutes, if at all,” he told the Guardian.
“This means that if a person wearing a burqa or a niqab is challenged trying to use a service, our staff will have no police backup to adjudicate on what they should do. It is not up to transport workers to impose the law and hand out fines.”
The government has insisted that its ban doesn’t target any religion. They also noted that people are free to dress however they want.
“This freedom is limited at locations where communication is vital for good quality service or for security in society,” the government site explained.
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