Denmark Outlaws Islamic Burqa

by Alexander Slavsky  •  •  June 1, 2018   

France, Belgium, Austria and Germany have also banned it

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark ( - Denmark is the latest European country to ban the wearing of full-face veils in public.

On Thursday, the Danish parliament passed a law outlawing the wearing of garments that cover the face, including Islamic veils like the niqab or burqa.

In a 75–30 vote, lawmakers with majority support from the Social Democrats and the conservative Danish People's Party (DPP) approved the measure, popularly referred to as the "Burqa Ban." It's set to become effective Aug. 1.


The law will punish anyone caught wearing a full-face covering in public with a more than $150 fine. Those who are repeat offenders will incur a more than $1,200 fine. And those caught forcing others to wear full-face veils, either by force or threats, can suffer fines or receive up to two years in prison.
"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," Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen told BBC News.
Danish People's Party Spokesman Martin Henricksen defended the ban, saying the full-face coverings oppress Muslim women.
"Some people use [the full-face veil] to promote an ideology which, if successful, would mean many others would lose their right to freedom," he said. "It's a matter of balance."
Besides being considered a form of female oppression, the veil is construed by supporters of the ban as a barrier to communication in public and is a potential security risk.
Besides being considered a form of female oppression, the veil is construed by supporters of the ban as a barrier to communication in public and is a potential security risk.
Figures from the Danish Ministry of Justice show that reported rapes involving migrants have skyrocketed by 196 percent in the country since June 2015.
"There is a clear overrepresentation of immigrants from non-Western countries when looking at the statistics of convicted rapists," according to the Justice Ministry report released last year.
And most migrants are coming from Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria where the majority religion is Islam.
Islam is the only major world religion that requires women to be completely covered when leaving their home, in accord with Sharia law.
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But critics of the law include Amnesty International's Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik, who decried the law as violating women's "rights of freedom and expression," saying:

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 criminalizes women for their choice of clothing and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.

Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, insisted the law affects primarily Muslims, arguing, "It will have the [e]ffect of further polarizing society and further alienating the Muslim minority population."

Thursday's decision was celebrated by Danish politicians and members of European Parliament, including Anders Vistisen who tweeted his support, saying, "Today, the Danish Parliament approved a law banning burqa and niqab. Congratulations #Denmark!"

And DPP tweeted its support for the ruling with an image of a veiled woman with a "no symbol" across her face with the following words: "now it's over with burqas in Denmark."

Other countries have passed similar laws, including France, Belgium, Austria and Germany, alongside the European Court of Human Rights.

Most bans against wearing garments in public are against full-face coverings and some have also banned Muslim headscarves. But the Danish rule does not outlaw turbans or the Jewish skull cap.


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