Danes March Against Face-Veil Ban to Support Muslim Women's Rights
Protesters say the law infringes on women’s right to dress as they choose.
More than a thousand Danes took to the streets of Copenhagen this week to protest a new ban on face veils in public, reported Reuters.
Protesters, who according to CNN wore face coverings including burqas and niqabs as they marched through the Danish capital, accused the government of infringing on women’s right to dress as they choose.
“We need to send a signal to the government that we will not bow to discrimination and a law that specifically targets a religious minority,” said Sabina, a 21-year-old niqab-garbed student, in an interview with Reuters.
Amnesty International echoed that sentiment in previous statements of support, saying the ban “violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion” and discriminates against women, particularly Muslim women.
Muslims make up around 5% of Denmark’s 5.7 million population, with 0.1% of those, or between 150 and 200 Muslim women, who wear the niqab or burqa garments covering the face or the entire body daily.
Considering the relatively small community of women wearing face veils in Denmark, the legislation is being interpreted by critics as a justification of anti-immigrant sentiment in the Nordic country.
As of Aug. 1, when the law went into effect, police can instruct women to remove their veils or order them to leave public areas, exacting fines of 1,000 Danish crowns ($160 USD) or more per offense.
Denmark joins a handful of other European nations that have prohibited face coverings in recent years, CNN noted. France banned full face veils in 2011. Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and parts of Switzerland have since set their own restrictions.