Denmark bans the burqa and the niqab, why has the Islamic veil been a subject of debate?

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A woman wearing the traditional burqa.Reuters

Denmark became the last country in Europe to ban outfits that cover the face, including the burqa and niqab worn by many Muslim women. While the ban was proposed in 2017, the Danish Parliament voted in favor on Thursday, May 31.

After receiving 75 votes in favor of the ban, the law will go into effect on August 1, 2018, and violations will result in a fine of 1,000 crowns ($ 156) for first-time offenders and approximately 10,000 crowns (1,568 $) for the fourth offense. , Reuters reported.

A niqab covers everything except the eyes, while a burqa also covers the eyes with a transparent veil. About 200 women are said to cover their faces in Denmark and this ban is expected to affect them all.

Defending its decision, the Danish government said the ban did not target a particular religion and would cover all kinds of veils such as balaclavas. However, the ban will not affect other things such as Jewish turbans, scarves and skullcaps.

Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen said the police would be in charge of the surveillance and use their “common sense” to check on those breaking the law. If they were found with a face covering in a public place, people would be asked to return home.

“With the ban on covering the face, we draw a line in the sand and emphasize that in Denmark

we show each other trust and respect by meeting face to face, ”Poulsen said as quoted by The Huffington Post.

Meanwhile, Denmark is not the only European country to impose the restriction, commonly known as the “burqa ban“. Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria imposed this ban some time ago. The first country to ban the Muslim veil was France and the restriction went into effect in 2011.

Why have nations banned the burqa and why the debate?

European nations have banned the burqa and niqab and it has been a hot topic of debate for some time now. While some believe that women should be allowed to choose what to wear – full face covering or not – some believe that such protections oppress women and it is almost as if they have no right to. have a voice. Several countries have also said that covering the face creates security concerns.

Demonstration against the ban on the burqa

Reuters

The Norwegian government had previously said that the headscarf in all schools, nurseries and educational establishments should be banned as it hinders “good communication” between pupils and teachers.

“We do not want clothes covering the face in nurseries, schools and universities … These clothes prevent good communication, which is important for students to receive a good education,” the minister of the country had previously said. ‘Education and Research Torbjorn Roe Isaksen in a statement. .

“Clothing covering the face, like the niqab and the burqa, has no place in Norwegian schools. It is a fundamental value to be able to communicate with each other,” Norwegian politician Per told AFP. Sandberg.

French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud had also said earlier that the burqa was not neutral attire. “A burqa is not a neutral outfit. It conveys a conception of women as an object of lust, a subject and not an agent of history,” he tweeted.

However, Oxford University lecturer Sundas Ali believes the ban is not really fair and also said extremism has affected the way Islamic attire is treated. “I think that in public a Muslim woman, or anyone really, should be allowed to dress as she wishes – as long as it doesn’t disrupt society or social harmony,” Ali said, citing. CNN.

Shereen El Feki, author of “Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World,” also told CNN that a burqa or a niqab does not always mean oppression and that a lot of the time women wear it. voluntarily according to their interpretation of their religion.

“For some it is fashion, for others it is clearly the expression of their modesty and their interpretation of Islam. And for many women, it is freedom”, added Feki. . “It is an empowerment tool.”


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