Denmark bans burqa, niqab in public spaces

Women in niqab at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen after the vote was passed

Danish parliament: Denmark has restricted the wearing of face cloak out in the open, joining France and other European nations in prohibiting the burqa and the niqab worn by some Muslim ladies to maintain what a few lawmakers say are common and fair qualities. The law was approved by a 75 to 30 vote this Thursday, after it was proposed by the centre-right governing coalition, and was backed by the Social Democrats and the far-right Danish People's Party.

The government said it was not aimed at any religion in particular and was not banning headscarves, turbans or Jewish skull caps.

The law will come into force on August 1 and violators will be fined one thousand Danish kroner. Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Bulgaria have since implemented full or partial bans.

While Denmark's ban was praised by Danish Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen, Amnesty International's Europe director, Gauri van Gulik, criticized the law's restriction on freedom of expression.

"This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa".

Denmark is the latest European country to ban the wearing of full-face veils in public.

Telling women how to dress doesn't liberate them - it denies them the right to make their own choices.

Those found violating it will receive a 1,000 Krone (£119/$166) fine which could increase to as much as £900/$1,257 for repeat offenders.

The prohibition does not apply to the covering of the face which, the law defines, as serving a "qualifying objective". "That is not going to happen", Poulsen said before the ban passed.

Shereen El Feki, author of "Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World", also told CNN that a burqa or niqab doesn't always mean oppression and a lot of time, women wear it on their own will as per their interpretation of their religion.

According to that legislation, civil servants and officials including judges and soldiers must have their faces uncovered. "If they live nearby, they will be asked to go home".

And DPP tweeted its support for the ruling with an image of a veiled woman with a "no symbol" across her face with the following words: "now it's over with burqas in Denmark".

Denmark has passed a law banning Islamic veils such as the niqab, which is worn here by a female protester in front of Russian Consulate in Istanbul on February 22.

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