Norway announces it will ban the Islamic veil in schools and universities
- Education Minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen pushes for burqa ban
- Muslim women rarely wear such veils in Norway
- But the right-wing government announced plans ahead of the election
- Roe Isaksen stressed that ban would not apply to Islamic headscarves
Norway’s right-wing government on Wednesday announced plans to ban the full Islamic veil in classrooms and university lecture halls.
Education Minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, quoted in the Vart Land newspaper, said the government was seeking “national regulations banning full-face veils in schools and universities.”
Muslim women are rarely seen wearing such veils in Norway, let alone in schools. But the question came back recently in political debates, less than a year from the legislative elections.
Several political parties, including the opposition Labor Party, have expressed support for such a ban.
The Norwegian government hopes to ban the full Islamic veil in classrooms and university lecture halls (file photo)
Roe Isaksen stressed that the ban would not apply to Islamic headscarves that leave the face exposed, such as the hijab. People should be allowed to express their faith in public in Norway, he said.
“I want a young Christian woman who wears a cross to be able to show it,” he told Parliament.
“I want a Jewish boy who wears a kippah to be able to show it. And I don’t want a ban on the hijab. ‘
The Norwegian decision comes as several European countries have decided to ban the niqab covering the face and the full burqa.
Bulgaria on Friday banned women from wearing the full face veil in public, and Switzerland’s lower house narrowly approved a bill on a nationwide ban last week.
In August, the German interior minister voted in favor of a partial ban.
France and Belgium have both banned the burqa and niqab in public, while French seaside resorts sparked international controversy this summer with local bans on the full Islamic “burkini” swimsuit.
A poll released earlier this month showed Britain’s strong support for a burqa ban.