With the Danish Government set to implement a ‘Burqa Ban’, the country’s Muslim population have voiced concerns that the move is symbolism over sense.
by Gareth Axenderrie
Denmark is due to roll out complete prohibition of face-covering garments this year in a move that will see the wearing of Islamic headwear like the Niqab and Burqa banned in public.
The Danish government formally proposed the ban earlier in February, meaning Denmark will join several other European countries in taking steps to restrict religious dresswear.
Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen said in a statement that face-covering is incompatible with the values of Danish society, adding that it is “disrespectful to the community to keep one’s face hidden when meeting each other in public spaces.”
Actual numbers are incredibly low
The ban has been an ongoing debate for much of the last decade. Estimated numbers of women wearing niqabs and burqas in Denmark vary, but in comparison to other European countries, numbers are low.
Imran Shah of Denmark’s Islamisk Trossamfund explains that although politicians have called it a ‘burqa ban’, research suggests that no women in Denmark wear the burqa.
“An estimated 50 women wear niqabs (a headdress that does not cover the eyes, unlike the burqa which has a transparent veil) in the whole of Denmark.”
“This leads researchers to ask, what is the point of this ban? If we have such few people wearing Niqabs, then why?”
Less about sense, more about symbolism
Shah argues that the policy, which has now been adopted by several of Denmark’s political parties, is less about sense and more about symbolism.
“Right wing politicians have made it their crusade against practicing Muslims. The Ministry of Justice decided that implementation of the ‘burqa ban’ would be an infringement on the rights of Denmark’s minorities.”
“They’ve changed the name to the masking ban to avoid the legal implications. It is a rephrasing of islamophobia.”
A European trend?
According to a pool conducted by YouGov in 2016, 57% of British people support a ban on the Burqa in the UK. However, no major political party has moved to include any such prohibition in policy.
Face covering has already been partially prohibited in France, Belgium, Germany the Netherlands and Austria, and Shah believes that the trend will continue across Europe in line with the continual rise of populism.
“Many Muslims came to Europe in the 1960s and 70s, where they broke their backs to make a life for themselves. Now, this is how they are treated. It leads us to question what is happening to liberal democracies and the protection of Europe’s minorities?”
“Whenever society is in a problematic situation, a welcome distraction is to blame minorities. You see the Muslim card played across Europe, by Viktor Orbán in Hungary to Theresa May in the UK.”