Danish “Burqa Ban” came into effect on August 1

Denmark's new law banning full-face veils as per Islamic tradition netted its first prosecution. A 28-year-old niqab-wearing woman was the first to be given a fine for violating the newly minted controversial law. The prosecuted woman was involved in a minor fight with another woman who tore her niqab off. The incident happened in Nordsjaelland's Horsholm. The conservative Muslim woman managed to put her niqab back on before the police came.

The new Danish law, which took effect on August 1, stated that any woman who wears a burqa, completely covering the face, or the niqab, which only shows the eyes, in a public space must part with a monetary fine amounting to about $150. Repeated violations of the same crime will jack up the fine to around $1,200. The ban also targets multiple accessories which hide faces like false beards, balaclavas, and masks.

Political observers in Denmark hold the opinion that populism was the main driver behind the enactment of the ban. Professor Stig Hjarvard of University of Copenhagen pointed out that the law has the support of all three of the principal Danish political parties – Social Democrats, Conservatives, and the Liberal Party. The academic, who specializes in researching religion's role in Scandinavian societies, pointed out that the subject includes both Islamophobia with secular enlightenment discourse splashed with populist anti-immigrant sentiment. The “Enlightenment” factor gave impetus to the argument that women can be freed from oppression by banning the veil.

Police officers who arrived at the scene took photographs of the Muslim woman wearing the niqab. They also obtained footage from the security camera that recorded the entire incident. The concerned woman was notified that she must pay a monetary fine. When the woman was told she must either take off her veil or remove herself from public spaces, she opted for the latter.

Professor Hjarvard said that Danish popular sentiment was shifting for many years now and many Danes think Islam is a threat to the culture of the European nation. He pointed out even though it is a small nation, Denmark has sent soldiers to far away warzones like Iraq and Afghanistan. No wonder he added, the narrative of the war on terror and Islam's role in terrorism has been pushed to the top of the country's agenda. These questions have been subsequently exploited by the populist right.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter