Denmark, known for its progressive economic policies and societal attitudes in the developed world, has recently passed a nationwide ban on niqabs, burkas, and other full-face veils that are worn in public this Thursday, May 31.
This particular ban, which will likely affect female Muslim citizens or foreign nationals residing in Denmark, was ratified by 75 votes and with 30 votes against it in the Folketing, or the country’s parliament, in Copenhagen. Those who violate the ban will be forced to pay up 1,000 kroner or $122. Fines will be ten times higher for repeat offenders.
This is not the first time a European Union member state has moved forward with such bans. France became the first country in Europe to ban full-face veils in all public spaces back in 2011. During that same year, neighboring Belgium passed a similar law. Full or partial bans such as those in France and Belgium were also passed in Austria, the southern German state of Bavaria, and Bulgaria. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights in the French city of Strasbourg upheld Belgium’s ban. The court ruled that communal harmony was more important than an individual’s right to religious expression in public.
Some experts and analysts believe that these bans are starting to reflect a changing Europe. According to a 2017 study from the Middle East Institute, Islamophobia is rising since 2015 during the early years of the recent migrant crisis and recent terrorist attacks in French cities like Nice and Paris. Most Islamophobic attitudes came from central and eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Czechia. Furthermore, with the rise of secularity across more developed European countries in regions such as the British Isles and Scandinavia, societal conflicts or tensions between non-religious citizens and religious newcomers from the developing world may continue to increase.