Denmark became the latest European country to ban full-face veils on Thursday, effectively outlawing the burqa and niqab worn by some Muslim women.
The country’s parliament voted 75 to 30 to implement a law that prohibits wearing veils in public, the BBC reported. The law does not specifically mention burqas or niqabs, but it is commonly known as the “burqa ban,” according to The Guardian, and is seen as being aimed at Muslim women.
The law will go into effect August 1, and fines will range from 1,000 Danish kroner ($157) to 10,000 kroner for repeated violations. Once it is in place, police will be able to tell women wearing a veil to remove it or order them to leave public places, according to Reuters.
Danish officials have described covering faces as incompatible with Danish values. “In terms of value, I see a discussion of what kind of society we should have with the roots and culture we have, that we don’t cover our face and eyes, we must be able to see each other and we must also be able to see each other’s facial expressions, it’s a value in Denmark,” Denmark’s Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen said, according to BBC News.
Opponents of the ban have argued it infringes on the rights of women to choose how they dress and present themselves.
“All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa,” Amnesty International’s Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said, according to The Guardian. “While some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion.”
Denmark joins France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria in imposing its ban. The country has struggled with how to integrate immigrants, especially as many refugees have arrived from the Middle East in recent years.
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