Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the Danish capital of Copenhagen wearing burqas and other face veils Wednesday to protest a law against facial coverings, saying the legislation oppresses some Muslim women and violates their rights.
Denmark joins several other European nations restricting face coverings. France banned the full face veil in 2011, while Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and parts of Switzerland have restrictions in place. Other European countries have debated the issue.
The Danish law was passed in May and came into effect Wednesday, meaning people found wearing facial coverings in public could be fined from 1,000 Danish krone ($157), for a first offense, up to 10,000 krone ($1,565) for a fourth violation.
Several women wearing niqabs which fully cover the body but leave the eye area open — said this would make it very difficult for them to leave their homes, whether to take their children to school, grocery shop, or just move around their communities. The burqa covers the entire body and has mesh in the eye area.
According to Martin Henriksen, an MP from the Danish People’s Party, which proposed the ban, he was very pleased with the progress of the law.
“The burqua and niqab are the purest form of extremism. This is a battle again fundamentalism. As a society, we are showing what we are willing to accept,” he said.
“We believe this is an important step for our country and we hope it will inspire other countries to do the same. It is irreconcilable with Danish culture and values.”
He added that in the future his party also hoped to see the banning from schools of Islamic headscarves that leave the face visible.