Danish supporters and opponents of a ban on garments covering the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa, clashed verbally Wednesday as the law takes effect.
Marcus Knuth of the ruling liberal party Venstre, says the dress worn by some conservative Muslim women is “strongly oppressive.”
Sasha Andersen of the “Party Rebels” activist group, is planning a demonstration later in the day against what they called Wednesday a “discriminatory” measure against a minority group. Groups that back the ban also plan to rally.
Danish lawmakers approved the law in May, which was presented by the center-right governing coalition that is known for tightening asylum and immigration rules in recent years.
In 2016, Denmark also adopted a law requiring newly arrived asylum-seekers to hand over valuables such jewelry and gold to help pay for their stays in the country.
Other European countries have similar bans, claiming they are not aimed at any religion in particular, and don’t ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skull cap.
Popularly known as the “Burqa Ban,” it is mostly seen as being directed at the niqab and burqa. Few Muslim women in Denmark wear such full-face veils.
The law allows people to cover their face when there is a “recognizable purpose” like cold weather or complying with other legal requirements, such as using motorcycle helmets required under Danish traffic rules.
First-time offenders risk a fine of $157. Repeat offenses could trigger fines of up to $1567 or a jail sentence of up to six months.
Anyone forcing a person to wear garments covering the face by using force or threats can be fined or face up to two years in prison.
Austria, France and Belgium have similar laws.