Partial Dutch ban on face-covering clothing comes into force

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A new Dutch law has come into force banning face-covering clothing - including the burqa and niqab worn by conservative Muslim women - on public transport, in government buildings and at health and education institutions.

The Netherlands, long seen as a bastion of tolerance and religious freedom, is the latest European country to introduce such a ban, following the likes of France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Denmark.

Muslim and rights groups have voiced opposition to the law - formally called the “partial ban on face-covering clothing” - and an Islamic political party in Rotterdam has said it will pay the 150-euro ($167) fines for anybody caught breaking it.

Very few women in the Netherlands wear a burqa or niqab and it is unclear how strenuously the law will be enforced.

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