Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated this news report from Belgium:
Male police officers are no longer allowed to verify the identity of a woman in a burka.
Male police officers are no longer allowed to verify the identity of a woman in a Burka. From now on that task will be confined to the few female officers with the police.
This is stated in a new memorandum sent out to all police departments from the federal police. Senator Dirk Claes (CD&V, Christian Democrats) believes that the result of the directive will be that those who wear a burka will no longer will be checked, and requests that the directive be canceled. (belga / mvdb)
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How can the police be certain that it’s even a woman wearing the burka? There have been a number of notorious cases in which burka-wearing men committed crimes or escaped from jail.
If the burkee appears to lack the expected… umm… protuberances in certain places, will a male officer be allowed a hands-on investigation?
I have my doubts…
Update: Flemish reader Y_not just sent us a translation of a different article on the same topic:
Male police officers can no longer control women wearing a burka
CD&V [Christian party in Flanders] asked minister Turtelboom (Open VLD) [Liberal party in Flanders] to withdraw new directive as soon as possible
Male police officers may no longer check the identity of a woman in a burka. From now on that task is confined to the few women in the Belgium police. That says a new directive by the federal police sent to all the corps [federal and local police corps in Belgium].
The headquarters of the federal police has issued a very controversial paper with new rules for checking the identity of burka bearers. The note was signed by Jean-Marie Van Branteghem, the number two of the federal police, and was sent at the beginning of July to all the police forces in Belgium. Most remarkable point: male officers may no longer control a woman in burka. “Controlling the identity should always be carried out by a female member of the police,” is the exact wording of the directive.
According to CD&V-Senator Dirk Claes, the directive will lead to burka-wearing women not being checked. “Our police forces already have a shortage of women,” says Claes. “There are 32,000 men as against only 6,000 female police officers. In that respect such a directive is simply not doable. This is so against the important safety principle that each officer should always be able to carry out identity control.”
The CD&V senator has already written a letter to minister of Interior Affairs Annemie Turtelboom (Open VLD), calling on her to withdraw the new directive as soon as possible. “Respect is good, but the police now show too much respect for privacy,” says Claes. “It is of utmost importance that the security services have adequate facilities to find out the identity of any suspicious person.”
According to the police unions, the new directive is issued “to avoid provocation”. And as stated in the note: “To at all times respect the dignity of each person.” “However, male officers should also be able to check a woman wearing a burka”, believes NSVP [Belgian police union] president Philip Van Hamme.
Jozef De Witte, director of the Centre for Equal Opportunity, sees no problem in the new rules. “If the police intend to operate more efficiently that way, I do not think we have to worry,” he says.
At this time, six communities have included a ‘burka ban’ in the municipal regulations: Antwerp, Ghent, Sint-Truiden, Maaseik, Lebbeke and Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. A national ban isn’t issued yet in our country. CD&V senator Claes wants to change that with a new bill. He wants that offenders receive a fine and be forced to follow an integration course. This follows the line of France and the Netherlands, where the government is becoming tougher in its attitude towards the burka.