The Danish Conservative Party is proposing to ban burqa and niqab attire as part of an integration initiative. The burqa is a head-to-toe garment worn by some Islamic women and the niqab is a similar garment that has an opening for the eyes. Conservative party officials have criticized the attire as being oppressive towards women and “un-Danish.”
Parliamentarian Naser Khader, the Conservative Party’s spokesperson for integration issues, told a Danish newspaper, “We don’t want to see burqas in Denmark. We simply can’t accept that some of our citizens walk around with their faces covered,” reported the Spiegel. Khader also said, “My view is that [the burqa] is not Islamic at all…The modern burqa was introduced by the Taliban when the movement came to power. So I associate the burqa with the Taliban.”
Peter Christensen, political spokesperson for the Danish Liberal Party, disagrees and reportedly said, “It’s going too far if we start legislating on what sort of clothes people can and cannot wear. The burqa and covered faces should not be allowed if you work with people in the public sector — but that is where we draw the line,” according to the Spiegel.
A poll by Politiken found that 56 percent of Danes support the introduction of “a general ban on wearing the burqa in [public spaces] in Denmark.” Only 30 percent of those surveyed oppose a general burqa ban.
A similar debate was recently ignited in France when President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his opposition to the burqa in a speech to a joint session of the French Parliament in June. A Dutch immigration minister also proposed a burqa ban in the Netherlands in 2006.