SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, euthanasia, drug use, prostitution -- in the Netherlands those are perfectly fine. But the one thing the Dutch apparently will not tolerate is what they perceive to be intolerance. In defense of their cherished tradition of gedogen -- which loosely translates as "to live and let live" -- the Dutch are ready to force the assimilation of conservative Muslim immigrants, who are deemed intolerant of fabled Dutch tolerance and must therefore no longer be tolerated. Got that?
Five days before a national election, the Netherlands' center-right government announced that it would introduce legislation to ban the wearing of burkas, veils and similar garments in public places. Should it pass, the most famously accepting country in Europe would have the most restrictive anti-Muslim laws on the Continent.
This is a spectacularly bad case of overreaching, even if you believe -- as we do -- that it's unfortunate that some women are forced by their culture to cloak themselves in anonymity before going out in public. Also, there are some Muslim women who feel exposed without covering up.
If anything, the proposed law, which is being justified on security grounds, could backfire by encouraging more immigrants to reach for their veils. And it risks further victimizing women by forcing them to stay indoors. A tiny minority of the roughly 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands are conservative enough to be affected by the proposed ban, but the message to all of them is loud and clear. And menacing.