Denmark bans Islamic face veils

Denmark approves law banning garments that cover the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa.

Elad Benari,

Muslim woman in burqa (illustration)
Muslim woman in burqa (illustration)
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Denmark on Thursday joined several other European countries in deciding to ban garments that cover the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa, reports The Associated Press.

In a 75-30 vote with 74 absentees, Danish lawmakers approved the law presented by the center-right governing coalition. The government stressed that the legislation is not aimed at any religions and does not ban headscarves, turbans or the kippah.

However, the law is popularly known as the "Burqa Ban" and is mostly seen as being directed at the dress worn by some conservative Muslim women. Few Muslim women in Denmark wear full-face veils.

The Danish government first proposed the ban in February, arguing that wearing Islamic full-face veils such as the niqab and burqa in public spaces “is incompatible with the values ​​in Danish society.”

Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen said that it will be up to police officers to use their "common sense" when they see people violating the law that enters into force on August 1.

The law allows people to cover their face when there is a "recognizable purpose" like cold weather or complying with other legal requirements, such as using motorcycle helmets under Danish traffic rules.

First-time offenders risk a fine of 1,000 kroner ($156). Repeat offenses could trigger fines of up to 10,000 kroner or a jail sentence of up to six months, according to AP.

Anyone forcing a person to wear garments covering the face by using force or threats can be fined or face up to two years in prison.

In passing the legislation, Denmark becomes the latest in a series of European countries to have approved similar legislation.

France was the first country to do so, having introduced a ban on women wearing the burqa in 2010.

A parliamentary committee in Belgium later voted to ban the burqa as well. Italy has drafted a similar law and, more recently, an Austrian law that forbids any kind of full-face covering, including Islamic veils, came into force.




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