Denmark passes law banning the niqab and burqa

Denmark is the latest European country to have passed a law banning the niqab and the burqa.

The law was passed by 75 votes to 30 in parliament yesterday and will come into force on Wednesday 1 August 2018.

Those who breach the ban will be forced to pay 1,000 kroner (£118), with fines ten times higher for repeat offenders.

The wording of the new law does not specifically mention Muslim women but says that “anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine”.

Speaking about the legislation, Denmark’s Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen said: “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.”

Amnesty International has described the Danish law as a “discriminatory violation of women’s rights”.

However, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a Belgian ban on the niqab last year, stating that “communal harmony” trumped the individual’s right to religious expression.

France was the first European country to ban the niqab in public places in April 2011, seven years after it introduced a law prohibiting overt religious symbols in state schools.

It was followed a few months later by Belgium, which outlawed any clothing that obscures a person’s identity in public.

Full or partial bans have since been passed in Bulgaria, Austria, the southern German state of Bavaria, with the Dutch parliament agreeing a ban in late 2016, pending approval from the country’s higher chamber.

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