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Norway seeks full-face veil ban in schools and universities

The Norwegian government has proposed a ban on full face veils in schools and universities. The law would apply to students taking part in introductory programs and language courses for newly-arrived refugees.

Norway became the latest European nation to propose a ban on burqas and niqabs on Monday, with the proposal set to apply to all educational facilities.

"Garments that cover the face prevent communication that is key for pupils and students in their learning," said Education Minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen. "Norway is an open society where everyone should be able to see each other's face."

Employees who insist on flouting the ban would lose their jobs while students could face expulsion from their courses. It would include full face veils like the niqab, as well as balaclavas and face masks.

Widespread support

The ban is expected to get parliamentary support, with media expecting the government to pass the bill in the early part of next year.  The law was proposed by the government, a coalition of center-right Conservatives and the populist Progressive Party, and is supported by smaller centrist parties and opposition groups on the left.

Progressive Party cabinet member Per Sandberg, who is acting minister of immigration and integration, told reporters that full-veil garments "oppress women and do not belong in Norway."

The proposal would be the first of its kind in the Nordic countries, but follows similar bans in France, Belgium, Bulgaria,the Netherlands and the German state of Bavaria.

rc/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)