A Danish Muslim woman who allegedly refused to take off her niqab at Brussels Airport has been deported to Tunisia after police were unable to identify her.
State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken, confirmed the incident on his official Twitter account on Saturday.
He tweeted: “A Danish citizen coming from Tunis refused to take off her niqab at our border. Police could not identify her. She was sent back to Tunis.”
The woman was not identified by her name in the tweet.
Franken added: “Thursday I informed my Danish colleague Inger [Stojberg, Danish minister for immigration, integration and housing] about the niqab-incident with a Danish citizen on our Schengenborder.”
On 23 July 2011, Belgium banned women from wearing the niqab and burqa, the Islamic garment which covers the face and full body, and imposed a fine and a prison sentence up to seven days on women caught wearing a full-face veil.
Belgium was the second European country to ban the niqab in public, raising fears among Muslim communities and human rights campaigners that other countries could follow suit.
The idea was first proposed by the Flemish far-right as “a first step against Islamisation”.
Amnesty International condemned the move at the time, deeming it as “an attack on religious freedom”.
Philippe Hensmans, of Amnesty Belgium, said it had been pushed through without a proper national debate.
He said: “It’s also not at all clear that it is in line with the Belgian constitution and with international human rights conventions.”
However, the anti-niqab legislation has found widespread support across the left-right political divide with opposition to the garment creating unnatural alliances between social conservatives and feminist pressure groups.