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Woman fined $156 for wearing face veil in Denmark

Women wearing the Islamic veil niqab sit in the audience seats of the Danish Parliament, at Christiansborg Castle, in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 31, 2018. Denmark joined some other European countries in deciding to ban garments that cover the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa. (Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

HELSINKI (AP) — A 28-year-old woman wearing a face veil has become the first person in Denmark to be fined for violating a new law banning such garments in public places.

Danish news agency Ritzau reported that police were called Friday (Aug. 3) to a shopping center in Horsholm, a city of 46,000 close to Copenhagen, to confront a woman wearing a niqab garment covering her face.

The woman was fined 1,000 Danish kroner ($156) and was asked to either remove the veil or leave the premises. She opted to leave.

Since Aug. 1, the country’s much-debated “Burqa Ban” has prohibited full-body burqas, as well the niqab — Muslim dress that only shows the eyes. Both are rare in Denmark.

The government says the law is not aimed at any religion and does not ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skullcap.

The Danish 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. 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.

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The Associated Press

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  • It is a shame that many of these countries are making these laws. I know that the assimilation expectation in the US is different from that of European countries (our histories are very different. We are that “melting pot” whereas the Europeans were always the conquerors and therefore the expectation is not that you will acclimate to the culture as an immigrant but that you will look as much like the conqueror as well.) The sad part here is that if the goal is assimilation and if there is a concern for women’s freedom, these bans will actually have the opposite effect. Women will remain in the domestic sphere only and not assimilate to the culture.

  • Stupid stupid law. If I were her..I would refuse the fine and make them jail me to show how stupid the law is. I would say most Danes would not be comfortable letting a woman sit in jail because of fashion choices.

  • This is a perfect example of how most European countries still do not get religious freedom.

    It would never fly in this country due to the protection of the free exercise of religion.

    The whole point of free exercise of religion is that a given ritual or belief is not subject to the opinions, likes or dislikes of others. The only criteria for any government action concerning one is whether it is rational, secular in nature and does not have a disproportionate discriminatory effect.

  • The “melting pot” analogy has always been more like a majoritarian fiction. Assimilation has never been a goal of our government or society. It is just the end product of an open culture which is not defined by race, religion, ethnicity or even language.

    “Integration” is a more apt term and better describes what happens here. We do not expect immigrants to lose their culture, religion or even language. But we do expect them to interact and become part of our system and society.

    By granting full citizenship to people born here regardless of their parentage (something Continental European countries do not do) we give an incoming generation of people a say in the system they live in. Reason and ability to move out from de facto ethnic enclaves (as opposed to the rigid circumscribed ghettos in many European countries) and join the wider culture.

    This law is merely the Danish government’s way of saying, “You are not one of us. You are not entitled to the same rights as the rest of us. Our government does not respect your religious beliefs”. Again, it would never fly in the US because of our 1st Amendment. Laws forbidding public religious practices require some overwhelming secular and rational purpose to be met. This ain’t it.

  • Good point – I was kind of looking for the word “integration”. When I lived in France I had a big debate about the differences between how the US and France assimilated/integrated immigrants. In France you truly were more successful if you fully assimilated in terms of becoming French – believing in the French culture as the best and that which needed to be spread throughout the world (“l’esprit colonisateur”). Here it was different – more integration. I have to say that is one positive aspect of our culture ( in general….there are still obviously many people who yell at foreign looking people to go back home….).

  • Also “American Culture” is almost entirely comprised of contributions from foreign cultures and appropriating/commercializing them.

    (Patriotic rant time)

    No country has the same success in integrating massive refugee waves like the US. Think of how many non English speaking, non WASP groups, have come here en masse and made themselves part of the country.

    There is a reason why the film Casablanca is so beloved by American audiences. Where else you would see a film where refugees in transit, are depicted with such optimism. With a cast of actual refugees.

  • Ummm, yes. The United States expects eventual assimilation. What binds a nation if not a common language, faith or culture. In the US it is the constitution and form of government ( and probably language).
    If there are no connections among groups of people/citizens, then there is no nation. Although that’s what you’re aiming for; isn’t it?

  • No it doesn’t.

    It does not demand people adopt the dominant language, it is just useful to do so. It does not penalize the expression of a minority religious belief, it protects it.

    You are right. What binds us is the dedication to the freedoms of all and the democratic system which protects it.

    Or at least we aspire to that. Most of us anyway. 🙂

  • So where is Sam Brownback when you need him? C’mon, Sam, I want to hear you defend religious freedom.

  • ‘This law is merely the Danish government’s way of saying, “You are not one of us.”‘

    This is one possible reading of the Danish government’s move. Here is another possible reading.

    The law is merely the Danish government’s way of saying, “You have bought into the notion that Islam is under threat in Denmark. Your women are wearing facial veils in order to make a statement that Islam is under threat. We feel hurt that you are not recognizing our efforts to make you feel at home.”

    Why is your reading of the Danish government’s move more defensible than the one I generated above?

  • “We feel hurt that you are not recognizing our efforts to make you feel at home”

    How does attacking a religious expression pretty much for its own sake make one feel at home?

  • The phrase “religious expression” entails there must be an Islamic doctrine that says, “Muslim women ought to wear niqabs.” I don’t think there is such a doctrine in Islam.

    If there is no doctrine on niqabs, what motivates Muslim women to wear niqabs? The motivation must be a wish to participate in a debate. The act of wearing a niqab is a figure of speech, whose referent has to be determined by the ongoing debates in Denmark.

  • “The phrase “religious expression” entails there must be an Islamic
    doctrine that says, “Muslim women ought to wear niqabs.” I don’t think
    there is such a doctrine in Islam”

    Plenty of Muslims seem to disagree with you. Since its their religion to practice, I leave such issues to them. The reason you can’t ban them in the US is because they are clearly in practice and belief a religious based garment worn.

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