World News

Denmark's Parliament bans wearing of face veils in public

Denmark's Parliament bans wearing of face veils in public

The ban, which will come into effect from August 1, was passed in the Danish Parliament in a 75-30 vote with 74 absentees, reported The Guardian.

France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have restrictions on full veils in public places. The government says it is not aimed at any religions and does not ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skull cap.

Anyone who forces others to wear garments that cover the face may also be fined or receive jail terms of up to two years.

"It is incompatible with the values in Danish society and disrespectful to the community to keep one's face hidden when meeting each other in public spaces", Justice Minister, Søren Pape Poulsen had said.

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.

"All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs", said Amnesty International's Europe Director Gauri van Gulik following the vote in Denmark.

Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen said police would not order offenders to remove their veils, but would fine them and tell them to go home.

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Those who break the law could be fined 1,000 kroner (£118) for the first offence.

The new Danish law could amount to discrimination against a minority group, Louise Holck of the Danish Institute for Human Rights told TV2 television.

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

She has lived nearly six years in Denmark with her husband, Haleem Shah, who also rejected that his wife was forced to wear the niqab.

"[The] Parliament has clearly stated that the burqa and niqab do not belong in Denmark", said Danish People's Party spokesperson Martin Henriksen.

Denmark has banned veils in public, insisting that covering the face was not compatible with social values.


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