A 28-year-old woman wearing a niqab on Friday became the first person in Denmark to be fined for violating a new controversial law banning full-face Islamic veils in public places, media reported.
Police were called to a shopping center in Horsholm, in the northeastern region of Nordsjaelland, where the woman had become involved in a scuffle with another woman who had tried to tear her niqab off, police duty officer David Borchersen told the Ritzau news agency.
"During the fight her niqab came off, but by the time we arrived she had put it back on again," Borchersen said.
Police took a photograph of the woman wearing the niqab, and obtained security camera footage from the shopping center of the incident. The woman was informed she would receive a fine of 1,000 kroner ($156, 134 euros) in the mail, and was told to either remove her veil or leave the public space. "She chose the latter," Borchersen said.
As of Aug. 1, wearing a burqa, which covers a person's entire face, or the niqab, which only shows the eyes, in public carries a fine of 1,000 kroner. Repeated violations are fined up to 10,000 kroner. The ban also targets other accessories that hide the face such as balaclavas, masks and false beards.
Human rights campaigners have slammed the ban as a violation of women's rights, while supporters argue it enables better integration of Muslim immigrants into Danish society.
The full-face veil is a hot-button issue across Europe. The European Court of Human Rights last year upheld a Belgian ban on wearing it in public. France was the first country in Europe to ban Islamic face veils, such as the burqa and the niqab, in public places as the controversial ban took effect in April 2011. France was also embroiled in a row this summer over bans on the burkini, a full-body Islamic swimsuit, in resorts around the Riviera. After France, Belgium has outlawed the burqa since 2011. The Dutch Cabinet approved plans to ban the full face Islamic veil in government buildings, schools, hospitals and on public transport in 2015. In Italy, the ban on women wearing the burqa has been in effect in only Lombardy, since December 2015.
Compiled from wires