Denmark latest European country to ban the niqab

29th Jun 2018
Denmark latest European country to ban the niqab

 

(Photo: Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Denmark has become the latest European country to ban full-face veils in public on May 29.

The law, which mainly affects Muslim women wearing a niqab, was passed by 75 votes to 30 in Parliament and will come into force on August 1.

Those violating the ban will be forced to pay 1,000 kroner (£118).

The wording of the new legislation does not specifically mention Muslim women but says that “anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine”.

The country’s Justice Minister, Søren Pape Poulsen, said: “We don’t cover our face and eyes, we must be able to see each other and we must also be able to see each other’s facial expressions, it’s a value in Denmark.”

Amnesty International (AI) has described the Danish vote as a “discriminatory violation of women’s rights”.

“All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa,” said AI Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik, in a statement to The Muslim News.

She added that “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 the rights to freedom of expression and religion.

“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 and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.”

But the European Court of Human Rights last year upheld a Belgian ban on full-face veils, saying that communal harmony trumped the individual’s right to religious expression.

France was the first European country to ban the full-face veil in public places in April 2011, seven years after it introduced a law prohibiting conspicuous religious symbols in state schools.

It was followed a few months later by Belgium.

Full or partial bans have since been passed in Austria, Bulgaria and the southern German state of Bavaria, with the Dutch Parliament agreeing on a ban in late 2016.

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