Denmark became the latest European country to ban full-face veils on Thursday, effectively outlawing the burqa and niqab worn by some Muslim women. But those most likely to cover their faces in public are Muslim women who choose to wear the burqa or niqab, a veil that leaves only the eyes visible.
The law comes into effect on August 1.
Those found violating it will receive a 1,000 Krone (£119/$166) fine which could increase to as much as £900/$1,257 for repeat offenders. After the fourth violation the fine will increase to 10,000 crowns (NZ$2200). The spokesperson on immigration and integration of the Danish People's Party explicitly cited a decade of efforts to ban the burqa and niqab in public, and vowed to push for new measures against the "Islamicisation of Denmark".
Denmark joins the ranks of France, Austria and Belgium who have implemented similar laws.
The law will affect just 0.2% of Muslim women in the country (at most), according to a 2013 paper estimating the number of Muslim women who wear niqabs and burqas in Denmark. "They are incompatible with Danish culture and the foundations on which Denmark is built".
The law was also backed by the Social Democrats and the far-right Danish People's Party.
"While some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion", van Gulik added.
"It has taken nearly 10 years to convince a majority in parliament that we should ban the burqa and niqab in public spaces, now it has passed", said Martin Henriksen of the populist party.
Women wearing niqab exit the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 31, 2018. The government says the law is not aimed at religious groups, but human rights advocates have criticized the rule as unnecessary.
In North America, the Canadian province of Montreal also banned face veils last October.
Austria's law on banning the full-face Muslim garment in public spaces came into force previous year. In order to quell allegations of discrimination, the wording of the law deliberately avoids mentioning religious veils, stating instead in general terms: "In the public sphere, no-one must wear an item of clothing that serves to cover the face".