Nation's security vs violation of right to wear
Burqa Ban: A Hot Button Issue Across Europe

Ban! Ban everywhere! The officials of Denmark introduce a new ban which has created a quite stir among Muslims of Denmark. The new ban called ‘Burqa Ban’ restricts Muslim women from covering their faces with Islamic veil.  While the law does not clearly point towards Islamic veils, it talks about anything that covers the face in public like Burqa, Niqab, fake beard, and balaclavas.

The law was passed by 75 votes to 30 in the Danish parliament and will come into full effect from August 1. Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen gave a statement stating that, “I don’t think there are many who wear the burqa here in Denmark. But if you do, you should be punished with a fine”. Any sort of facial covering which partially or fully covers the face like burqa or niqab will lead to a fine of 1,000 kroners. Repeated violators will be imposed with fine of 10,000 kroners. The blanket ban does not prohibit Jewish skullcaps, headscarves, or turbans. However, the total number of women wearing burqa in Denmark is known.

The justification given by Danish officials behind this movement states that it is an initiative taken for ‘liberating’ women and stepping up nation’s security. Martin Henriksen, delegate for the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, told Ritzau, “Some people use (the full-face veil) to promote an ideology which, if successful, would mean many others would lose their right to freedom. It’s a matter of balance”

So, is Danish government liberating women? The answer is NO! By implying dress code, the officials have got it all wrong. Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International organization’s Europe director stated, “Whilst some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion. If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights, it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalizes women for their choice of clothing and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.”

Furthermore, this ban may aggravate Islamic Extremists as it affirms their notion of West’s hatred towards Islam. The Center For Inquiry (CFI), which patronizes secular government and humanist values around the world, condemned the move by saying that this blanket ban violates the freedom of expression and religion. This violation would further intensify tensions, embolden the country’s extremist nationalists, and push Muslim women and girls — who are already in a vulnerable state—deeper into fear and isolation. Michael De Dora, CFI’s director of government affairs released a statement saying, “We strongly oppose allowing religions to dictate oppressive dress codes on women, but change must come by freeing women to choose their own style of dress — not by imposing bans. Targeting Muslim religious practices is a distasteful and dangerous electoral ploy to appeal to rising right-wing sentiments. Civil liberties should never be subjected to political calculus.”

Ayesha Haleem, a resident of Denmark says she’s been wearing niqab for past six years and nobody, including her husband has forced her to wear burqa. In an interview with Danish public broadcaster DR she said, “Many people believe that men force us to wear the niqab or burqa. That’s completely wrong. If I didn’t want to wear the niqab then I wouldn’t, even before meeting my husband. I’d rather leave the country than take my veil off.”