Activists wearing burqas march through Copenhagen to protest face veil ban

Activists wearing burqas march through Copenhagen to protest face veil ban

Activists wearing burqas march through Copenhagen to protest face veil ban

In May, Denmark became the latest in a series of European nations to ban face veils in public, saying that it is a necessary measure to uphold the country's secular values.

Campaign group Kvinde I Dialog (Women In Dialogue) and opponents of the ban held demonstrations in Copenhagen and Aarhus in opposition to a law that it says criminalises Muslim women and legalises Islamophobia.

Even so, protestors cited the right for women to dress as they wish and said the law unfairly targets Muslim women, who make up 5 per cent of the country's population.

Under the law, police will be able to instruct women to remove their veils or order them to leave public areas. First-time offenders face fines of 1,000 Danish kroner, around $150.

The crowd marched towards the Bellahøj police station and called on police to focus on more important problems rather than fining people who wear veils.

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"This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa".

"They are slicing away the freedom to practice your religion and these populist political parties are fanning the fire", Imran Shah, a spokesperson for the Islamic Society of Denmark, told Middle East Eye.

"Everybody wants to define what Danish values are", said Meryem, 20, who was born in Denmark to Turkish parents and has been wearing the niqab since before meeting her husband, who supports her right to wear it but feels life could be easier without.

'I have come to the realisation that Muslims don't have the same rights as others.

"When the mosque is one of the few places where we can (wear veils), then I think the law will mean that more people will go to the mosque". But Muslim organisations say the law is part of a broader attack on Muslim culture, stoked by the country's populist right, that is gradually encroaching on their religious freedom.

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Under the new law, protesters who cover their faces while peacefully exercising their right of expression are exempt from ban. Repeat offenses could trigger fines of up to $1567 or a jail sentence of up to six months.

The law was enacted by the Danish parliament in May and its proponents have rejected the notion that it represents a ban on religious clothing.

The ban also applies to other full face coverings, such as balaclavas.

Ayah, 37, a wearer of the niqab weeps as she is embraced by a police officer during a demonstration against the Danish face veil ban in Copenhagen, Denmark, August 1, 2018. Amnesty International issued a statement describing the legislation as a "discriminatory violation of women's rights".

Nekkaz also announced that he would pay the fines in Denmark.

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France - with the largest Muslim community in the European Union - as well as Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have all imposed some curbs on face veils in public.

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