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Denmark becomes latest European nation to ban niqab, burka

Austria, France and Belgium already have laws in place banning the full-face veils.

world Updated: Oct 06, 2017 15:45 IST
Demonstrators covering their faces participate in a protest called
Demonstrators covering their faces participate in a protest called "The traditional clown's walk against the burqa ban" in Vienna, Austria October 1, 2017. (REUTERS)

Denmark will join other European countries banning full-face covering, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa.

Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of Denmark’s liberal party that leads a center-right governing coalition says a law proposal was not aimed at any religions or a ban of scarfs, turbans or kippa, the traditional Jewish skull cap.

Ellemann-Jensen spoke Friday after a meeting in Parliament.

A large majority of lawmakers, including the opposition Social Democrats — Denmark’s largest party— has said it would vote for such a law, popularly known as the “Burqa Ban.” The move is mostly seen as directed at the dress worn by some ultra-conservative Muslim women. Few Muslim women in Denmark wear full-face veils.

No date for a formal vote was announced. Austria, France and Belgium have similar laws.

Here’s a look at where other European countries stand:

France: France was the first country to ban face-covering veils in public places in 2011, under the Nicolas Sarkozy administration. In 2106, the country followed this up by banning ‘burkinis’, fully covered swimsuits, from its beaches.

Belgium: Like France, Belgium banned the full-face veil in 2011. The Belgian law bans any item of clothing that obscures a person’s identity in public spaces. In 2012, a Belgian court refused to overturn the ban, saying that it did not violate human rights.

Austria: In Austria, where the ban came into force on October 1, Muslim women wearing the veil were ordered by police to take it off. Those who defy the ban could face a fine of 150 euros. Full-face veils are rare in Austria, where estimates suggest that only about 150 women wear them.

Germany: While there is no ban on veils in Germany, chancellor Angela Merkel said in 2016 that full-faced veils should be prohibited in Germany “wherever it is legally possible”.