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Denmark: Burka Ban Debated

(Aug. 24, 2009) Although Denmark's governing Liberal Party has rejected the idea, other political parties in the ruling coalition have proposed that the country ban the wearing of burkas and niqābs in public. A burka covers a woman from head to toe, while a niqāb is a veil that covers the face and head. Naser Khader, a spokesman for the Conservative Party who focuses on issues related to the integration of immigrant populations into Danish society, called the burka “un-Danish” and said, “[w]e do not want to see burkas in Denmark. … The modern burka was instituted by the Taleban when it came to power. I see it as a symbol of the Taleban.” (Burka Ban Proposal Splits Government, COPENHAGEN POST, Aug. 17, 2009, available at

The suggestion to ban these garments was originally part of a package of proposals on integration policy approved by the Conservative Party at an annual meeting. The ban, which would not have applied to other headscarves or to what was worn inside the home, was supported by the Danish People's Party, an ally of the current government, and by the Social Democrats, who are part of the opposition. (Id.)

In opposing the ban, the government said that while burkas should not be allowed to be worn by those who work in the public sector, forbidding the clothing otherwise in public was too strong a step to take. Peter Christiansen, a political spokesperson for the Liberal Party, said “that's where we draw the line.” (Id.)

According to the Islamic Faith Society, only three or four women in Denmark wear the burka, while 30-40 wear the niqāb. With these small numbers involved, Imran Shah, the organization's spokesman, argues that a ban is not necessary. (Id.) A ban on the wearing of the burka has also been discussed in France. (See Nicole Atwill, France: Creation of Commission to Study Wearing of Burqa, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, July 2, 2009, available at //