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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 17:05 GMT
Netherlands considers burqa ban
Afghan women wearing burqas
The burqa, worn here by Afghan women, covers the entire body
The Dutch immigration minister says she will look into the legality of banning the burqa, the robes worn by some Muslim women to cover their bodies.

Rita Verdonk made the pledge after a majority in parliament said it would support such a ban.

The proposal was put forward by independent politician Geert Wilders.

"That women should walk the streets in a totally unrecognisable manner is an insult to everyone who believes in equal rights," he said.

"This law is a comfort to moderate Muslims and will contribute to integration in the Netherlands," he added in a statement.

His proposal is supported by two of the parties in the governing centre-right coalition, as well as the opposition right-wing party founded by the late Pim Fortuyn.

Mrs Verdonk did not say when she might complete her investigation.

If the Netherlands does decide to ban the burqa, it will be the first European country to do so.

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