Boas in Groningen are allowed to wear headscarves by the municipal council

Boas in Groningen are allowed by the municipal council to visibly wear a headscarf or yarmulke. But that is against the sore leg of Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz, who still wants to ban religious expressions with a ministerial regulation.

After months of debate, a large majority of the Groningen municipal council ultimately decided to scrap the ban on religious expressions by special investigating officers (boa). This means that boas will soon be allowed to wear headscarves or yarmulkes while exercising their profession. With the decision, Groningen follows cities such as Arnhem, Tilburg, Utrecht and Amsterdam, where this is already allowed.

According to initiator Janette Bosma (Party for the Animals), it is essentially about standing up for human rights and minorities. “The ban limits a group of people from becoming boas,” she says. “A ban on religious expressions is outdated and a municipality that strives for diversity should not raise these kinds of barriers. It is time to abolish the headscarf ban.”

A month ago, Mayor Koen Schuiling called on the city council to wait. He wants to ensure more diversity in the boa and police force in a different way and he fears safety problems if there is actually a boa with a headscarf or yarmulke on the street. Six boas tried to convince the municipal council last week for the same reason, but in vain.

Those in favor of allowing religious expressions do see the objections, but make a different assessment. “The fear of violence should not form the basis of this assessment,” says Etkin Armut (CDA). “We must not let our policy depend on antisocial and intolerant behavior.”

Minister wants to lie down in front of it

The question remains whether the municipality of Groningen can actually implement the decision. Outgoing Minister of Justice and Security Dilan Yeşilgöz (VVD) is strongly opposed to this development and wants to ban boas from going onto the streets with a headscarf or yarmulke through a ministerial regulation.

“It seems that we cannot reach an agreement any other way,” she said just before the debate in Groningen. One today . Yeşilgöz wants boas to look the same in every municipality. “It’s not called a uniform for nothing. This does not include religious expressions.”

However, constitutional law professor Wim Voermans of Leiden University doubts whether the minister even has that authority. He points to an article of law that states that the minister can only impose requirements on the competence and reliability of boas, but not on dress codes. Then the law must be changed. “But the minister cannot do that alone.”

Yeşilgöz’s words irritate D66 councilor Jim Lo-A-Njoe. It strengthens him and his faction in the decision to allow religious expressions at boas. “The minister is insulting local democracy in this way. Boas are employed by the municipality and not by the minister.”