First Published: 2017-10-06

Denmark set to ban burqa, niqab
Spokesman for Liberal Party: This is not a ban on religious clothing, this is a ban on masking.
Middle East Online

By Teis Jensen - COPENHAGEN

Around 200 women in Denmark wear niqab and burqa

Denmark looks set to become the next European country to restrict the burqa and the niqab, worn by some Muslim women, after most parties in the Danish parliament backed some sort of ban on facial coverings.

Full and partial face veils such as burqas and niqabs divide opinion across Europe, setting advocates of religious freedom against secularists and those who argue that such garments are culturally alien or a symbol of the oppression of women.

The niqab covers everything but the eyes, while the burqa also covers the eyes with a transparent veil.

France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have all imposed some restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils in public places.

"This is not a ban on religious clothing, this is a ban on masking," Jacob Ellemann-Jensen, spokesman for the Liberal Party, told reporters on Friday after his party, the largest in the coalition government, decided to back a ban.

This would effectively mean a ban on the niqab and the burqa, he added. Around 200 women in Denmark wear such garments, according to researchers.

The three-party centre-right minority government, its ally the Danish People's Party and the main opposition Social Democrats have all said they are in favour of a ban, though they are still discussing how the ban should be designed and enforced.

"There will come a masking ban in Denmark. That's how it is," Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said on Facebook.

His party, the Liberal Alliance, had previously been one of the staunchest opponents of a ban, saying it limited people's ability to freely choose their attire, but has now aligned its stance with that of the other coalition parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals.

"So if it is practically possible to have such a ban without betraying ourselves or our own values, then the Liberal Alliance will vote for it," Samuelsen said.

The Social Democrats, Denmark's biggest party, has also signalled support in principle for a ban on garments such as the burqa, which it said oppressed women.

"We are ready to ban the burqa if that is what it takes ... But there are some dilemmas, not least with regards to how such a ban would be enforced," said the Social Democrats' leader Mette Fredriksen during a debate in parliament on Thursday.

Norway's government in June proposed a ban on face-covering Muslim veils in kindergartens, schools and universities.


Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Iraqis flock to flea market for relics of bygone era

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis

Israel blasts Gaza underground tunnel

Abu Dhabi awards France's Total stakes in oil concessions

Erdogan says Afrin city centre under ‘total’ control

Egypt tries to contain Sudan but challenges, suspicions remain

US defence secretary presses Oman on Iran weapons smuggling

Syrian regime retakes two towns from Ghouta rebels

Hamas shutters mobile firm after Gaza attack on PM

Israel punishes family members of West Bank attacker

Syria opposition says UN 'failed to prevent' Assad 'crimes'

UK tries to soothe Egyptian anger over mob attack death

Hundreds of thousands flee in dual Syria assaults

Turkish Cypriots vow to stand firm in gas dispute

Intensifying assaults in Syria spark dual evacuations

Tearful reunions, uncertain fates for Syrians fleeing Ghouta

Iran deal signatories meet as Trump deadline looms

Thirty years on, Kurds remember Halabja massacre

Air India says will fly over Saudi airspace to Tel Aviv

UN chief calls for end to Lebanese 'meddling' in Syria