Denmark Sees Hundreds Of Protesters As 'Burqa Ban' Comes Into Force
Hundreds of people have gathered on the streets on Copenhagen to protest against a new ban on face veils being worn in public.
The ban, which the Danish government enacted in May, affects all form of face veils, including burqa, niqab, full-face balaclavas, hats, caps, scarves, masks, helmets, full-length suits and artificial beards.
However, the inclusion of the burqa and niqab has prompted accusations of infringing on a woman's right to wear what she wants, and has been met with strong objections from both Muslim and non-Muslim residents of the Nordic country.
Protestors of all ages took to the streets wearing both styles of face veil, including the niqab and the full-length burqa, marching from Copenhagen's central district of Norrebro to Bellahoj police station on the outskirts of the city, reports the Sun.
The legislation came into effect on 1 August. Under the new law, police will be allowed to order people to remove face veils in public areas. If they do not comply with police orders, they will be handed a fine and sent home.
Fines will range from the equivalent of £120 ($160), for a first offence, to £1,190 ($1,550), for anyone stopped four times under the legislation.
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Muslims account for approximately five percent of Denmark's population, with around 200 women opting to wear an Islamic veil.
Sabina, a 21-year old graduate, who choses to wear a niqab, said: "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.
"Everyone has an opinion of why we wear it [a niqab or burqa], everyone has an opinion of how we live our lives, why we choose to wear it and so on.
"But unfortunately, everyone talked about us and no one actually talked to us or listened to us."
Fotis Filippou, Europe director of human rights group Amnesty International, said about the ban: "If the intention of this law was to protect women's rights, it fails abjectly.
"Instead the law criminalises women for their choice of clothing, making a mockery of the freedoms Denmark purports to uphold."
Wednesday's protests (1 August) were peaceful, and Danish police have said that none of the veiled protesters would be penalised because certain use of the veils, in this case to exercise freedom of speech, remain exempt from the law.
A spokesperson for group Kvinder I Dialog (Women In Dialogue) told the Independent: "The purpose of this demonstration is to show that we do not accept this kind of unjust treatment regardless of who we are dealing with."
Denmark is the latest European country to ban such items of clothing, joining several other nations including France, Belgium and Germany. Other countries have also debated the issue.
Featured Image Credit: PA