Danish Conservative Party drops proposal to ban veil … for now

A controversial proposal fielded by the governing Danish Conservative Party to ban the Muslim burka and niqab in the public space has been dropped after Justice Ministry officials have studied the idea.

“The Justice Ministry officials have said that in their view, the proposal raises important issues in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Constitution,” says Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen (Cons). “It’s obvious that neither I, nor a party such as the Conservative People’s Party, can support a proposal that raises that sort of legal issue.”

Controversy arose on the issue after the Conservative Party’s new integration spokesman announced in August that the party, which is the junior minority coalition party, wanted to introduce a total ban on Muslim burkas or niqabs in the public space. “We don’t want to see burkas in Denmark. We simply can’t accept that some of our citizens walk around with their faces covered,” MP Naser Khader (Cons) said at the time.

Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen says that instead, he looks forward to a report from a working group that the government has set up to look into how the use of the burka can be stemmed by other means. “The burka represents an oppressive view of women and humanity which the government does not feel has a place in Denmark. So the government has set up a fast-working burka group to study the issue and I am looking forward to its findings,” says Mikkelsen.

Politiken, 17 September 2009