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Denmark: Thousands march against veil ban

2nd Aug 2018
Denmark: Thousands march against veil ban

By Davut Colak

 

COPENHAGEN (AA): Thousands of people marched against a controversial ban in Denmark on the wearing of face veils in public that came into force Wednesday.

Demonstrations were held in the capital city of Copenhagen and second largest city of Aarhus against the ban, which was approved on May 31.

The protests — organized by Kvinder I Dialog (Women in Dialogue), a group founded by left-wing activists and women wearing the veil — were supported by Muslim migrants and citizens of Denmark.

Demonstrators, who gathered in Nørrebro district of the capital city, covered their faces with veils and masks in support of women being targeted by the ban.

The crowd marched towards the Bellahøj police station and called on police to focus on more important problems rather than fining people who wear veils.

Sabina Youssef, one of the demonstrators, told Anadolu Agency that she would continue to wear her veil despite the ban.

“This law that came into effect includes discrimination. Its aim is to isolate a small religious group from society,” Youssef said, adding that only 50 women wore veils in Denmark.

Violators will be punished with a fine of up to 1,000 kroner ($156). Repeat offenders could be fined up to 10,000 kroner ($1,563).

“I don’t think there are many who wear the burqa here in Denmark. But if you do, you should be punished with a fine,” Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen was quoted as saying by Ritzau in February when the government presented its proposal for the ban.

The law was approved in the Danish parliament in a 75-30 vote with 74 absentees.

The ban has been condemned by human rights groups.

Amnesty International on Wednesday condemned the law as a “discriminatory violation of women’s rights”, especially against Muslim women who choose to wear the full-face veils.

“If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalises women for their choice of clothing – making a mockery of the freedoms Denmark purports to uphold,” Deputy Europe Director Fotis Filippou said in a statement.

“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 women’s rights to freedom of expression and religion,” he added.

Rachid Nekkaz, a French business executive of Algerian origin, has launched a fund against the burqa ban, which he called “illegal”, and has paid over 500 fines of women who defied similar bans in six countries.

Nekkaz also announced that he would pay the fines in Denmark.

According to a 2010 study by the University of Copenhagen, only 150-200 women wear the Islamic face veil in Denmark and only three women wear the burqa.

It is estimated that Muslims account for about 7 percent of Denmark’s population of 5.6 million.

Last year, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a Belgian ban on wearing the full-face veil in public.

France was the first European country to ban the niqab in public places with a law that took effect in 2011.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo:  Demonstrators protesting against ban on the wearing of face veils at the Black Square in Copenhagen, Denmark on August 01, 2018.  Photographer: Davut Çolak/AA]

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