Denmark Passes Law To Ban Burqa & Naqab In Public Places, Becomes 5th European Country To Do So
Denmark becomes the fifth European country on Thursday to ban Burqa and Niqab. In a 75-30 vote with 74 absentees, Danish lawmakers approved the law which is to come into effect from August 1, 2018.
With this latest move, Denmark joins other European countries like Austria, Bulgaria, France and Belgium to ban clothes which cover faces, most notably Niqab and Burqas in public places.
However, the law which was presented by the country’s centre-right coalition government, said that its purpose is not to aim at any particular religion and it does not ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skullcap, reported The Guardian.
Interestingly, this new law, popularly dubbed as ‘Burqa Ban’ is seen as targeting Muslim women in the country who choose to wear a particular type of clothing.
The punishment for violating the new law comes at a hefty price as well. First-time offenders will have to pay a fine of 1,000 kroner (Rs 8,209), whereas repeat offenders will have to pay 10,000 kroner (Rs 1,05,480) or jailed for up to six months.
The latest legislation does not prohibit people from covering their faces for a “recognisable purpose”, such as cold weather or wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle reported The Guardian.
According to BBC, Denmark’s Law Minister Søren Pape Poulsen said, “In terms of value, I see a discussion of what kind of society we should have with the roots and culture we have, that 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.”
The Ban Which Drew Criticisms
The ban drew sharp criticisms from Human Rights activists in Europe and the world over.
Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Europe director, told The Guardian, “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.
“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,” he added.
While, Louise Holck of the Danish Institute for Human Rights was reported saying in The Washington Post that if the target is only on women wearing niqab or burqa, it could amount to discrimination against a minority group and hence be against the law.
Movement To Ban Burqa In The West
Over the last decade or so, there has been a growing movement to ban full-face veils in countries in Europe. Even the European Court Of Justice, the highest court of EU has passed a law that allows employers from prohibiting their staff from wearing a headscarf.
Most notably, in 2011, French President Francois Fillon in a decree banned the full-face veils from public spaces. Countries like Germany and Austria either upheld a full-face or a partial ban on Burqa and Niqab.
Not only Europe, but a handful of Muslim-majority countries like Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Kosovo have also banned hijab or headscarves in government buildings, schools and colleges. Syria too has a ban on the use of face veils since 2010.