Denmark joins other European nations in adopting 'burqa ban'

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Women wearing the niqab sit in the audience at the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen on Thursday, as a bill that bans face coverings in public passes by a majority vote. The law does allow headscarves, turbans and Jewish skull caps to be worn.

'This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa. A repeat offender won't face prison as proposed, but could receive a $1,600 fine. After the fourth violation the fine will increase to 10,000 crowns (NZ$2200).

Addition to this, any person forcing or threatening another to wear a full-face veil or garments covering the face would risk two years imprisonment.

Denmark joins France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria in imposing its ban.

The justice ministry and the police now will write more detailed guidelines.

The wording of the new legislation does not specifically mention Muslim women but says that "anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine".

In 2009, the Danish government reached out to Warburg and her research group at the university's Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies to carry out a study on the number of Muslim women wearing the burqa or other types of face coverings in Denmark.

"All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs", said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International's Europe director.

Under the law, police can instruct women to remove their veils or order them to leave public areas. Syria too has a ban on the use of face veils since 2010.

The Telegraph reports that France was the first European country to ban the burqa in public.

German lawmakers approved a partial ban on "covering the face" past year.

Danish lawmakers have voted in favor of a law prohibiting the wearing of full face veils, such as the niqab or burqa, in public. Fifty-five percent of Christians in Denmark who go to religious services at least once a month agree that Islam is incompatible with Danish culture. "But some people use them to promote an ideology that, if they are successful, will mean many more lose their freedoms", Martin Henriksen, the Danish People's Party spokesperson on immigration issues, said, according to The Local DK.

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