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Muslim woman fined in Denmark for wearing face veil in public

Storyline:National News, World

A 28-year-old woman became the first person to be fined for the offence since the country introduced a new law banning wearing garments that cover the face in public.

The police arrived on the scene and found the woman illegally wearing a niqab – a garment of clothing that covers the whole face, with the exception of the eyes – in public.

When she refused to remove the veil, she was fined 1,000 Danish kroner ($156).

The law came into effect on August 1, as Denmark follows the approach adopted by Belgium, Germany, Austria and France.

The four countries have all issued bans or partial bans on full-face veils and burqas – which cover the entire face – or a niqab worn in in public. A first penalty carries a fine of 1,000 krone ($155) in Denmark, while repeat offenders can be fined up to 10 times that.

However, the ban has been met with fierce criticism from Muslim women’s advocacy groups and civil rights campaigners, who argue the law legitimatizes religious discrimination.

When the law became official on August 1, hundreds of people rallied in protest in the streets of the Danish capital Copenhagen.

A number of Muslim women have vowed to defy the ban and simply carry on wearing their veils, while supporters of the ban argue that it will facilitate integration.

Muslims account for about 5 per cent of Denmark’s population of 5.7 million and it’s estimated that of the total, only 0.1 per cent (between 150 and 200 Muslim women) wear a niqab or a burka on a daily basis.