Dutch lower house lawmakers approve burqa ban

Lawmakers in the lower house of Dutch parliament have approved a limited ban on "face-covering clothing" including Islamic veils and robes such as the burqa and niqab.

The legislation approved Tuesday by a large majority in the 150-seat lower house must now be approved by the upper house of parliament before it can be signed into law.

Studies suggest that only a few hundred women in the Netherlands wear niqabs or full-face burqas, but successive governments have attempted to ban the garments, following the example of European countries such as France and Belgium.

The Dutch proposal, described by the government as "religion-neutral," does not go as far as the complete bans in those countries. It applies on public transport, education institutions, health institutions such as hospitals, and government buildings.