Denmark's Parliament on May 31, 2018 banned the wearing of face veils (burqa and niqab) in public places, a move that will criminalise Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa.
What is a niqab or a burqa?
A niqab covers the woman's face except for the area around the eyes, while a burqa covers the entire face and has a mesh over the eyes.
The Danish parliament voted 75-30 with 74 absentees. The measure will come into force on August 1, 2018.
The ban was supported by the ruling liberal-conservative coalition parties, the far-right People’s Party and the opposition Social Democrats, who believe that face veils are contrary to the Danish values.
Reaction of a Danish girl
Zainab Ibn Hssain, a 20-year-old who lives in Copenhagen, told Reuters that “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. ”
Highlights of the legislation banning face veils in public
• The law forbids the wearing of full-face veils such as the niqab, balaclavas, face-covering ski masks, face masks and fake beards.
• It does not outlaw headscarves, turbans, traditional Jewish Kippa, protective masks, winter clothing such as scarves or costumes and motorcycle helmets.
• Denmark’s Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen said that police will not order offenders to remove their veils, but would fine them and let them go.
• Fines will range from 1000 Danish crowns (USD 160) for a first offense to 10000 crowns for a fourth violation.
The burqa ban by Denmark is the latest in a series approved by other European lawmakers. France was the first European country to ban wearing the full-face veil in public through a law that took effect in 2011.
Restrictions on full-face veils are also in place in Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, German state of Bavaria, Austria and parts of Switzerland, while other European countries have debated the issue.
While in the other regions, lawmakers in Quebec and Canada passed a bill in October 2017 that would require public workers and citizens seeking government services to have their faces uncovered.
Opponents’ view about the legislation
• Rights groups opine that such bills discriminate against Muslim women who wear face-concealing veils. They strongly believe that such a move violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion.
• They believe that some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety are fine, but this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate.
• If the intention of this law is to protect women's rights, it fails completely as it criminalises women for their choice of clothing.
• Amnesty International's Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said that “All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs.”
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