Copenhagen, Denmark (AP) – Denmark joined other European countries to decide on Thursday to ban clothing that covers the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or the burqa.
In a vote of 75 to 30 with 74 absent, Danish lawmakers pbaded the law presented by the center-right governing coalition. The government says that it is not aimed at any religion and does not prohibit the veil, the turban or the traditional Jewish cap.
However, the law is popularly known as the "Burqa Prohibition" and is seen primarily directed at the dress worn by some conservative Muslim women. Few Muslim women in Denmark wear full veils.
Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen said it will be up to police officers to use their "common sense" when they see people who break the law that goes into effect on August 1.
The law allows people to cover their faces when there is a "recognizable purpose" such as cold weather or meet other legal requirements, such as wearing motorcycle helmets under Danish traffic regulations.
Offenders for the first time risk a fine of 1,000 crowns ($ 156). Repeating infractions could lead to fines of up to 10,000 crowns ($ 1,600) or a prison sentence of up to six months.
Any person who forces a person to wear clothing that covers their face by force or threats may be fined or face up to two years in prison.
Austria, France and Belgium have similar laws.