06:27, May 31 138 0 theguardian.com

2018-05-31 06:27:06
Denmark passes law banning burqa and niqab

Denmark has joined several European countries in banning garments that cover the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa, in a move condemned by human rights campaigners as “neither necessary nor proportionate”.

In a 75-30 vote with 74 absentees on Thursday, Danish lawmakers approved the law presented by Denmark’s centre-right governing coalition. The government says it is not aimed at any religions and does not ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skull cap.

But the law is popularly known as the “burqa ban” and is mostly seen as being directed at the dress worn by some Muslim women. Few Muslim women in Denmark wear full-face veils.

Those violating the law that comes into force on 1 August risk a fine of 1,000 kroner (£118). Austria, France and Belgium have similar laws.

Following the Danish vote, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, said: “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.

“Whilst 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.

“If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalises women for their choice of clothing and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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