An educational centre in Copenhagen has told six Muslim students they can no longer attend classes unless they remove their niqabs.
VUC Lyngby school said the rules were changed in the autumn to no longer allow students to cover their faces during class.
But the case came to the attention of the national media following a post on the school’s Facebook page that sparked a debate about the policy.
VUC Lyngby posted a response to the crticism explaining that “everyone is welcome” at the institution and that no one had been asked to leave class for wearing a niqab. But they said the new policy will apply to all future students at the school.
“Free and unhindered communication requires that we can see each other’s faces. Therefore it is not allowed to cover the eyes, nose or month while participating in lessons,” the post read.
The school said it had offered the six Muslim women who were told they could not attend future classes wearing a niqab the opportunity to follow classes via e-learning..
School official Inge Voller told Metroxpress the policy was not religiously motivated.
“This isn’t a question of religion or ethnicity but of learning, as we are an educational institution. It’s about how to create the best learning and we believe you can do that best when you can communicate openly with one another,” she said, according the Copenhagen Post.
Opinion polls on local news sites showed that an overwhelming majority of readers backed the school’s decision.
Venestre, Denmark’s ruling party, the Conservatives and the Danish People’s Party (DPP) have also expressed support for VUC Lyngby.
DPP spokesman Martin Henriksen told news agency Ritzau: “We want a total ban except for within one’s private home. One can do whatever they want there.”
France and Belgium are the only two countries that have banned the niqab.