A ban on people wearing clothing that covers their face in public, like a burqa or niqab, may find its way to Denmark following a landmark decision at the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday.
Judges upheld France’s burqa law, accepting the argument that veils threatened the right of citizens to live together in society. And now, several legal experts have told Berlingske newspaper that they believe a similar ban could be enacted in Denmark.
Sten Schaumburg-Müller, a law professor at Aarhus University, agreed that the French model could be adopted by Denmark. “It’s obvious that a ban specifically targeting burqas would be hopeless,” he said. “But I believe a ban similar to France’s prohibiting the covering of the face in public could be established here.”
Jacob Mchangama, the head of think-tank Justitia, also believes the law could be recycled on Danish ground. “The defining element in the French legislation is that it isn’t targeted at specific religions, but instead the motivation is to ensure social cohesion and interaction between citizens,” he said.
Pia Kjærsgaard, the DF values spokesperson, thinks a ban on face-covering dress, whether it is specifically targeting Islamic burqas or not, should be introduced in Denmark. “We can’t have women being completely covered so you can’t see their facial expressions or who you have right in front of you,” she told Berlingske.
If Kjærsgaard takes the question to parliament, it will be the third time DF has proposed a burqa ban, as two similar laws were considered in 2004 and 2009. However, neither of them was passed.
Besides France, only two other European countries – Belgium and the Netherlands – have passed bans targeting Muslim face veils.
Berlingske has also reported that the Christian Democrats take the same view as the Dansk Folkeparti on this issue. “The Christian Democrats are generally opposed to legislating on civil liberties, but to hide the face is an insult to the Christian view of human nature and oppressive to women,” according to a statement by the party’s national chairman Stig Grenov.