A bus driver from the Arriva transport company had a woman with a nikab taken from a bus in Stein in Limburg on Monday. The driver in question called the police when the woman refused to leave, confirms Arriva on Tuesday with NU.nl after reporting by De Telegraaf. As far as we know, it is the first time that such an incident has occurred.

The police arrived on the scene and escorted the woman from the bus. The driver refused to continue driving with the woman and stopped the vehicle.

Arriva confirms that the incident has taken place. This is “not in accordance with the guidelines,” said a spokesperson. For example, chairman Pedro Peters of the OV-NL trade association explains that drivers may indeed appeal to someone to wear a nikab, “but the carriers cannot formally refuse access”.

Also the public transport cannot be stopped, which is what happened in this case. Peters explains to NU.nl that according to the guidelines drivers must make a professional assessment themselves and always have to work in a de-escalating manner. If a discussion is in the air, then a confrontation is discouraged. “They can feel this very well themselves.”

The woman, Angela Limburg (36), tells newspaper Trouw that she decided not to leave the bus because she knew that Arriva would not enforce the burqa ban. While the driver called the police, she tried to contact the customer service of the bus company.

“I thought: the police are not coming.”

When a police officer asked her to get out, she decided to do so without resisting. According to Trouw, Angela is going to submit a complaint to Arriva. “I just felt like a black in the United States. This really struck me.”

Angela has traveled by bus more often in the past week, and will continue to do so. “I have to take the bus to work every day and I have no alternative.”

She would rather have only her first name in the newspaper because otherwise everyone in her place of residence knows who it is about and she doesn’t feel safe with it.

No figures from nikab carriers known

As far as we know, it is the first time since the partial ban on face covering clothing that someone has been denied access to public transport. The law came into force this month and includes the prohibition of wearing a nikab or, for example, an integral helmet in public transport, education, healthcare and government buildings.

By the way, no one is obliged to intervene if he or she sees a woman wearing a nikab. In this specific case, drivers can call in the police, but this is not mandatory.

It is not exactly clear how many women in the Netherlands wear a burqa or nikab. Estimates range from 150 to several hundred.

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