Rachid Nekkaz returns to pay burqa fines despite a no-show crowd.

French-Algerian businessman and political activist, Rachid Nekkaz returned to Christanborg Palace in Copenhagen on Tuesday September 11th, to pay the fines of women who freely wear the niqab.

By Amy Holloway, Bella FIlacuridi and Ana Cano

Rachid Nekkaz and his wife Cecile Le Roux. Photo by Ana Cano

 

This protest on the Danish Parliament steps was a follow-up to his previous demonstration last month where 20 women
showed up to protest the burqa ban. However, on Tuesday no women in the niqab were present, only a crowd of
reporters and cameramen.

In response to this turnout, Nekkaz said, “It looks like the government has successfully scared these women.”

The Burqa Ban Law

The Burqa Ban, implemented by the Danish Liberal Party in August 2018, prohibits women to wear the niqab in public.

Women who break this law will be fined 1000 kroner with a maximum fine of 7 to 14 days in prison. If the ban is further
disobeyed, after the fourth violation the fine will increase to 10000 kroner.
Nekkaz has paid 1552 fines across France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Austria and Germany since 2010. It has
totalled to 2.4 million Danish Kroner.

“I will never accept that the Danish Kingdom will do the same thing as a dictatorship would do; block people from freely
expressing themselves” says Nekkaz.

Immigration spokesperson for the Danish Liberal Party, Marcus Knuth stated “We see the use of the burqa and the
niqab against women’s rights which is why we passed the law.” Knuth goes on to state, “We received wide
support…close to three-quarters of parliament voted in favour of the ban.”

Markus Knuth being interviewed outside the Parliament, right before Nekkaz protest. Photo by Ana Cano

 

The support of this ban extended to Belgium where the European Court of Human rights approved a similar ban. In
reference to this, Knuth states “If you can’t see each other’s faces then you are covering yourself from society and you
can’t be a part of society.”

The Protest

A protestor in favour of the Ban stated the niqab prevents social integration and is against the ‘Danish way.’ He said,
“It’s not a danish thing to cover your face. If you do not want to live like we do in Denmark then you can just disappear.”

During the protest, Nekkaz addressed his fear of “right wing extremism” staining the democratic values of individual
liberty, progressive politics and equality. This fear, and his advocacy for women’s rights are his main motivators to
protest the Burqa Ban. He believes this Burqa Ban espouses the values of the Algerian dictatorship led by President
Bouteflika.

Whilst protesting, police intercepted Nekkaz and promptly escorted him off the stairs of Parliament, when he resisted
their request to move. Nekkaz was then grabbed by police and yelled to crowd “Your Prime Minister is a terrorist!”
This was in response to the current allegations against Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, where he supposedly
financed the Taliban terrorist organisation upwards of 600 000 Danish Kroner in 1988 in order to buy AK47 assault rifles
for the terrorist group.

Rachid Nekkaz being pushed by the Danish Police. The authorities insisted that Nekkaz moved off Parliament property. Photo by Bella Filacuridi

 

Nekkaz’s Return to Denmark
As a consequence to these allegations, Nekkaz declared a message to the Danish Prime Minister requesting his
resignation within a week. If the Prime Minister does not oblige, Nekkaz threaten to call the Universal Court of Appeals
and Human Rights and make an accusation towards him and his ability to lead this Kingdom. He wishes the Prime
Minister to be judged by the Hague Court for Crimes Against Humanity.

Neekaz will also return to Copenhagen each month to continue paying the fines for women who choose to wear the
niqab, until the law to changes.

Nekkaz talking to the crowd while covering his face (symbolising the niqab) using a picture of the Prime Minister with members of the Taliban. Photo by Ana Cano

 

Although it is not his personal belief that women wearing the niqab is the most appropriate expression of faith, Nekkaz
believes in the democratic principle of freedom of expression.

Nekkaz endorses the leadership of Norway and their approach to the issue; restricting the use of the niqab only in
enclosed spaces. He says, “This is the only way it should be in a democratic state with proper rule of law” and that
Denmark should follow suit.

For more information on Muslim headwear and its legality click here

This story is written for a European Audience and could be published on https://Theguardian.com/