Denmark Passes Law Banning Islamic Niqab and Burqa Face Veils

burka burkha hijab niqab
TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty

The traditional Islamic burqa and niqab veils have been banned in Denmark after a majority vote in the country’s parliament.

In a 75-30 vote with 74 absentees on Thursday, Danish lawmakers approved the law. The Danish government says it is not aimed at any religions and does not ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skull cap, AP reports.

Denmark now follows in the footsteps of several other European countries which have also banned the full-face veil, fully or partially, including France, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Belgium, Germany, and parts of Switzerland.

During the weeks-long parliamentary procedure of the bill, the government removed a provision allowing prison sentences as potential punishment for breaking the new law. Financial penalties will instead be enforced against those who infringe on the new legislation.

Those found violating it will receive a 1,000 Krone (£119/$166) fine which could increase to as much as £900/$1,257 for repeat offenders. 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.

Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen has previously stated that Danish police will not forcibly remove veils from women.

“I do not want police officers pulling items of clothing off people – burqas or otherwise. That is not going to happen,” Poulsen told Politiken last month.

“If they live nearby, they will be asked to go home,” Poulsen said at the time.

A further option would be for women to be accompanied to a police station, where they would be collected by a family member, he added.

Unlike the Austrian burqa ban, which prohibits all facial coverings including Halloween costumes, the Danish ban will have a limited number of exceptions including those using scarves to protect their faces from cold and people dressed up in costume.

Following the Danish vote, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, said: “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.

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