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To what extent are face coverings permitted at demonstrations?

Recently, the University of Amsterdam was the scene of pro-Palestinian demonstrations that got out of hand. The demonstrators included rioters who wished to remain anonymous by wearing face coverings. Several experts, including Wim Voermans, Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law, spoke to Dutch daily newspaper 'de Volkskrant' about the extent to which Dutch laws and regulations permit face coverings in public spaces.

In the Netherlands, people have the right to wear what they want, regardless of the opinions of others. Since 2019, however, the Netherlands has had a ban on coverings that completely cover the face – otherwise known as the ‘burka ban’. In some spaces – including in and around healthcare, education and government buildings and public transport – it’s important to be able to recognise others and look them in the eye. This promotes a feeling of public safety.

In de Volkskrant, Professor Voermans says that people can cover their faces when they’re attending demonstrations in public spaces such as Dam Square in Amsterdam and Malieveld in The Hague: ‘You’re free to cover your face in those situations.’ Last week, however, there were demonstrations at a university building in Amsterdam, when the ban did apply. ‘You can’t demonstrate everywhere – for example, in buildings that aren’t yours,’ Voermans concludes.

Meer weten?

Read the full article in de Volkskrant (in Dutch, €)

Photo: Jonathan Harrison through Unsplash

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