Denmark's 'Burqa Ban' Targets Muslim Women Who Wear Full-Face Veils

“It’s not nice. It will mean that I won’t be able to go to school, go to work or go out with my family. But I won’t take my niqab off so I have to find another solution.”

Women in niqab

Following the footsteps of other European countries, Denmark banned face veils in public, including niqab and burqa which are worn by Muslim women.

The Danish parliament voted in favor of the ban with a vote of 75-30. Seventy-four members of the Parliament remained absent during the vote.

Under the ban, there will be complete   prohibition on Islamic full-face coverings. Police in the country will have full authority to instruct women to remove their veils or order them to leave public areas. Anyone who fails to abide by the law will be subject to a fine.

First time offenders will face a fine of $156. However, if repeated, the offender can face a penalty of up to $1,571 along with a prison sentence of up to six months.

Moreover, the law also allows people to cover their face under a “recognizable purpose.” This means in extreme weather conditions, such as cold, people will be allowed to cover their faces. Using motorcycle helmets will also not be prohibited.

In addition, people of the country will be allowed to wear headscarves, turbans and Jewish skull caps.

However, the government claims the ban is not targeted at any specific religion. But clearly it is a “burqa ban” and is targeted towards Muslim women who cover their faces as part of their faith. 

Pape Poulsen, who leads the conservative party in the coalition, described the practice of covering faces in public as “incompatible with the values ??of Danish society or respect for the community.” Earlier, he also suggested face veils were “disrespectful” to the community.

The news of the ban came as a disappointment for Muslims living in the Danish country.

“It’s not nice. It will mean that I won’t be able to go to school, go to work or go out with my family. But I won’t take my niqab off so I have to find another solution. It has nothing to do with integration or that we’re oppressed. For me it is a war on Islam,” said 20-year-old Zainab Ibn Hssain.

Human rights group Amnesty International called the ban “a discriminatory violation of women’s rights.”

“All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa,” said the organization’s Europe Director Gauri van Gulik.

He added, “Whilst some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion. If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalizes women for their choice of clothing and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.”

France, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have all imposed some restrictions on wearing full-face veils in public places.





Banner / Thumbnail : Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen/via REUTERS

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