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Denmark bans full-face veils in public

May 31, 2018

Danish lawmakers have passed a ban on wearing items of clothing in public that conceal the face, which includes some forms of Islamic dress. The government says, however, that the law is not aimed at religions.

Woman wearing niqab
Image: Getty Images/F. Senna

Denmark's parliament on Thursday approved a law forbidding the wearing of garments covering the face in public, joining a number of European countries that have already introduced such bans.

The law is being seen by many as targeting the dress worn by some conservative Muslim women, such as the niqab or burqa, and is being introduced amid concerns about growing Islamophobia in Europe.

What does the new law entail?

  • The law, carried by a 75-30 vote, forbids the wearing of full-face veils such as the niqab, balaclavas, face-covering ski masks, face masks and fake beards.
  • It does not include protective masks, winter clothing such as scarves or costumes, motorcycle helmets and masks often worn during Carnival or at Halloween.
  • First-time offenses can incur a fine of 1,000 kroner (€134, $157), with repeat offenses carrying higher penalties up to 10,000 kroner or a jail sentence up to six months.

Read more: Austrian full-face veil ban comes into effect

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'Common sense' application

Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen called on police officers to use "common sense" when applying the law, which will come into force on August 1.

Human rights group Amnesty International has called the ban "a discriminatory violation of women's rights," saying that "all women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity of beliefs."

Read more: Reports: Morocco stops sale, production of full-face veil

Contentious theme:  The law has popularly been called a "burqa ban," with critics seeing such legislation as an expression of a rising Islamophobia in many European countries amid a recent surge in largely Muslim refugees coming to the continent. Austria, Belgium and France now have similar laws, while Germany and several other nations ban full-face veils in some public contexts. A 2010 report estimated, however, that only some 200 women in Denmark used such veils.

Read more: Austrian burqa ban: Police raid toy store over a Lego Ninja   

Burqa 'opposite to open society'

tj/rt (AP, AFP)

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