Niqab

Denmark follows a number of European countries on this subject

The Danish “Burqa Ban” came into effect on August 1, the culmination of multiple months of effort by the center-right government. The Danish Parliament approved the ban in May. A huge number of Danes held a rally in Copenhagen on the same day in protest, accusing the government of infringing the women’s choice of dress they want to wear. Denmark joined a number of European Union countries like France in enforcing such a ban. A few politicians claim that this is to ensure the preservation of democratic and secular values.

A significant number of protesters wore the body-length burqa, known as niqab veil, as they began their march from the Copenhagen downtown district of Norrebro to the Bellahoj police station located on the periphery of the metropolis. Many demonstrators brought children with them. Both non-veiled and veiled women took part in the march. Participants in the march included not only Muslims but non-Muslims as well.

The niqab is worn by a maximum of 200 women in Denmark on a regular basis. The numbers make up 0.1 percent of the total population of the European country. To put in perspective, Muslims make up five percent of the total Danish population amounting to 5.7 million individuals.

The political climate in Denmark is sharply divided over the burqa ban. Conservatives like Marcus Knuth of Venstre, the ruling party, claim that the niqab worn by women can be deemed “strongly oppressive.” The left-of-center parties and citizen advocacy groups like the activist group “Party Rebels” held a demonstration against what it terms “discriminatory” measures targeting a minority group. Denmark is not the only country to enforce such bans. The governments in those countries make similar claims and outright deny they those laws target people of a particular faith. The laws do not ban Jewish skull caps, headscarves, or turbans. European nations like Belgium, France, and Austria have enacted similar laws. The Denmark instance is different, with the law targeting the burqa and the niqab. Only a minuscule proportion of Danish Muslim women wear total face-covering veils.

Critics have come down heavily upon the law. Fotis Filippou, the deputy European director of Amnesty International, said if the law was made with the intention to protect the rights of women, it fails miserably in this task. He pointed out the law actually criminalizes women simply on what they chose to wear. The ban also goes against the freedoms Denmark claims to uphold.

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