Danes don niqabs and masks to protest new law

Hundreds of demonstrators wore full-face veils, masks, diving equipment and helmets to protest the Danish Burqa law that came into force today. The law bans the use of the Muslim niqab veil and burqa, as well as other items that cover the face such as false beards and masks.

The demonstration started in the multicultural area of Nørrebro in the Danish capital Copenhagen and ended in front of the Bellahøj Police Station, where the demonstrators joined hands to form a human chain that surrounded the police station.

Undemocratic law
The demonstration was arranged by The Danish Socialist Youth Front, Women in Dialogue and Party Rebels.

According to Rebekka from the Socialist Youth Front, the law is both absurd and at odds with the democratic rights of Danish citizens.

“The law is clearly racist and violates our democratic rights. Instead of prohibition and exclusion, social control issues must be solved with information and awareness”, she told the crowd.

No fines
The police chose not to issue mandatory fines of 1000 Danish kroner (150 euros) to veiled and masked demonstrators who were acting in violation of the law.

The police had stated before the demonstration that they would not be issuing fines as the law allowed people to cover their face when there is a “recognizable purpose” – a term that includes wearing a motorcycle helmet or exercising one’s right to freedom of speech by participating in a legal demonstration.

The event proceeded peacefully and no arrests were made.

‘Discriminatory violation of women’s rights’
The Burqa law was passed in March with votes from the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the Danish People’s Party, several MP’s from the Liberal Alliance, as well as all of the opposition Social Democrats apart from MP and former minister Mette Gjerskov.

Similar laws are already in place in other European countries including France, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, parts of Switzerland and the German state of Bavaria. The Dutch parliament passed a similar law in 2016 that is pending approval from the Dutch courts.

Amnesty International has described the Danish law as a “discriminatory violation of women’s rights”.

“It is not the role of the state to decide how we ought to live together, eat, practice our religion, spend our money or dress” – from the Liberal Party’s party platform.

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