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New Dutch Government Makes Pact to Ban Burqa, Cut Deficit

Liberals and Christian Democrats in the Netherlands say they will ban the Muslim burqa-style veil as part of a pact to form a minority coalition government backed by the anti-Islam Freedom Party.

The pact presented by the parties' leaders Thursday also proposes to cut about $25 billion from the Dutch budget.

The incoming coalition government will be dependent on support of the Freedom Party lawmakers to give it a majority in the 150-seat chamber.

Christian Democrats are waiting the outcome of their October 2 convention vote before they make a final decision to approve the coalition proposal.

The Dutch announcement of an intention to ban the burqa comes less than one month after France's Senate approved a ban on face-covering veils.

The vote was France's final step to legalize a ban on niqabs and burqas.

Niqabs veil the face and hair while leaving an opening for the eyes. Burqas cover everything and hide the eyes with a mesh screen.

France has one of the largest Muslim populations in western Europe, but only an estimated 2,000 Muslim women in France wear the face-covering veil.

Officials in Italy also have fined women for wearing niqabs, and Belgium's lower house has overwhelmingly approved a measure that would ban women from wearing burqas and niqabs in public.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Bloomberg and Reuters.