De Wever comes out against burqini ban


After weeks of controversy regarding whether or not Flanders leading party, N-VA, was in support of a region-wide ban on the burqini, party president Bart De Wever has announced it is not

‘A bridge too far’

The Flemish nationalist party N-VA is not in favour of a ban on the burqini swimming garment, the party’s president, Bart De Wever, told VRT News. Such a measure, introduced in some coastal towns in France and supported by some N-VA party members, would be “a bridge too far” and legally impossible to enforce, he said.

The ban on the full-body bathing suit worn by Muslim women has found some support in Flanders, particularly in the coastal towns. N-VA member of the Flemish parliament Nadia Sminate came out in favour of a ban earlier this month. “We live in Flanders, and we decide what the rules are,” she said. “If we have to draw the line to give force to our norms and values, then that’s what we have to do.”

Party colleague Hendrik Vuye of the federal parliament took the other point of view: “Such limits on liberty have to be proportional and respond to a compelling social need,” he wrote in De Standaard.

Though he does not support a ban, De Wever said that the party is fundamentally opposed to the garment. “It is a symbol of inequality between men and women, even when worn voluntarily,” he said. “We’d rather not see it at all.”

The party continues to support a ban on the garment in municipal swimming pools, where full body wear such as wetsuits are also not allowed.

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