A Danish policewoman who hugged a Muslim protester wearing the niqab is under investigation, the country’s police complaints body has said.
The officer hugged the woman at an August demonstration against Denmark’s ban on wearing face veils.
The demonstration in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro neighbourhood took place as a new law banning public wearing of face-covering garments including Islamic veils came into effect.
During the demonstration, a 37-year-old woman named Ayah became emotional and was consoled by a police officer. The embrace was captured by Reuters photographer Andrew Kelly.
But Marcus Knuth, a member of the right-wing Venstre party, sent a complaint to the police after reportedly seeing a press release about the two women.
Danish newspaper BT reports that Mr Knuth’s complaint says the officer’s actions could suggest “the police in Denmark sympathise more with niqab demonstrators than with [government] legislation“.
But the policewoman’s lawyer said she acted appropriately in her role as a “dialogue officer” – an officer who serves to ease tensions during protests.
“It is complete nonsense,” the lawyer said. “As my client said, if it had been any other person in the same situation she would have done the same, so it has nothing to do with her wearing the niqab.”
The country’s ban on any garment “that hides the face in public” came into force on August 1. It makes wearing a face veil an offence punishable by a fine of 1,000 kroner (£120), rising ten times higher for repeat offenders.
Sarah, a member of Kvinder i Dialog (Women in Dialogue), told 5Pillars that the investigation is ridiculous.
She said: “The ban is Islamophobic, and the intention behind it is to discriminate and harass Muslim women in public spaces. The police sympathise with us and are clearly showing that they are against this discriminatory law. This upsets the xenophobic politician/mayor Markus Knuth, because it shows that even the police are struggling with the enforcement of such a racist law and instead of giving us fines, they are hugging and comforting us when we are distressed and feel discriminated against.
“The fact that he has complained about the police officer and that she is being questioned right now for giving a hug is not only ridiculous, but it also shows how far these extreme politicians are going to enforce/spread Islamophobia/Islamophobic laws.
“It is disgraceful and shameful that he is using his position to put pressure on the police officer for acting kindly towards a distressed Muslim woman. Once again this makes the matter clear – there is a deep rooted racist and Islamophobic problem in society and the forerunners in this are unworthy politicians like Markus Knuth.”