Speed Reads

culture clash

Denmark follows France in banning the burqa

The Danish Parliament voted Thursday to ban the use of face-covering veils in public spaces, setting Aug. 1 as the prohibition's start date. Violators could theoretically be ordered by police to remove their face coverings, but Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen said authorities will typically issue a fine and tell the veil-wearers to go home. Fines will range from about $160 to $1,600, increasing with repeat offenses.

Supporters of the law say it is a necessary security measure and, in Poulsen's words, that veils are "incompatible with the values ​​of Danish society or respect for the community." Opponents say it is a violation of women's rights and religious liberty, as the rule will mostly affect use of the burqa and niqab coverings some Muslim women wear. "All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs," said a critical statement from Amnesty International.

Denmark is not the first European country to pass such a law: France issued a controversial "burqa ban" in 2010 that prohibited public use of helmets, masks, veils, and costumes that conceal the face. The French law withstood a 2014 challenge in the European Court of Human Rights, and Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Latvia have followed suit, as have some institutions and municipalities in other European countries.