62% of Danes support burqa ban, but law faces opposition from establishment parties

A new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Danes support a ban on face-covering Islamic garb with only one in five opposing such a measure. A populist local party will attempt to reintroduce burqa-banning legislation in parliament after three previous failed attempts.

“It is very positive. It shows the debate is moving forward and means the other parties in parliament are also catching on. At least, I hope they are,” Martin Henriksen, a member of the Danish People’s Party, which has made the legislation a symbolic centerpiece told the broadcaster DR, which commissioned the survey.

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© Khaled Abdullah

Out of 1,000 people asked, 62 percent said they were in favor of a ban on both the niqab and the burqa in public, 23 percent said they were against the measure, and 12 percent said they did not know. The result is in line with other similar surveys in recent months, which show attitudes hardening towards a piece of clothing associated with strict Islam, even if there is no official obligation to wear either such covering clothes in the Koran.

Opponents of the law, which include most of the left-wing parties and the Liberal Alliance – a member of the ruling coalition – have argued that it might isolate Muslim women and prevent them from leaving their houses altogether.

But Henriksen believes that Denmark must combat the failure to integrate fully, not accommodate it.

“Such women can still go out and pick up children from school – they just have to do it without facial covering. In fact they must do so, if they want to get out of the house, and enter the labor market. If they want to lead normal lives,” said Henriksen.

The People’s Party says its proposals will be submitted to deputies this autumn, but will avoid criminalizing burqa-wearers, as “that will give the other parties an excuse to reject the proposal.”

The drive to ban outright religious symbols has been eased by similar bans being gradually adopted throughout the continent, including Belgium, France, Austria, and to a limited extent in neighboring Germany and Norway.

Members of the leading governing Venstre party, which could give the necessary push to the legislation, have increasingly supported the measure.

“I think it’s just a matter of time before a ban comes to Denmark. More and more can see the benefit of not accepting that kind of suppression of women,” its immigration spokesman Markus Knuth said last month.

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