Denmark's centre-right drops plans to ban the burqa
Denmark's Conservative Party shelved a proposal to ban the burqa, the head-to-toe Islamic veil, after government lawyers said it could violate human rights, the justice minister said on Thursday.world Updated: Sep 17, 2009 22:17 IST
Denmark's Conservative Party shelved a proposal to ban the burqa, the head-to-toe Islamic veil, after government lawyers said it could violate human rights, the justice minister said on Thursday.
The centre-right party is the junior member in a minority coalition government with the Liberals, which opposed banning the burqa.
Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen, a Conservative, said government lawyers had advised a ban could breach the European Convention of Human Rights and the Danish constitution.
"It is clear to me as minister of justice ... that we cannot sign up to a project that raises such legal issues," he said in a statement.
But Mikkelsen added that a working group had been set up by the government to explore "other ways of fighting against the burqa's spreading popularity" in public places.
"The burqa represents a view of women that has no place in Denmark," he said in the statement.
Plans to ban the burqa, first put forward by the Syrian-born Conservative lawmaker Naser Khader, has sparked controversy among politicians and the public alike.
But Khader, the Conservatives' spokesman on integration, staunchly defended his proposals at his party's annual conference last week.
"The burqa is a symbol of repression from men who want to control women 100 percent," he told delegates. "Why are there no men who have to cover themselves with a blindfold over their eyes?"
His proposal received strong support from the far-right Danish People's Party, a key ally of the coalition government in the Danish parliament.
The ban on the traditional Islamic garment is also being debated elsewhere in Europe.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently said the burqa was "not welcome" in France as it is clashes with its secular tradition. He set up a commission to look into whether it should be banned.