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Danish Muslim women to protest veil ban across country

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DENMARK: Danish Muslim women across the country will march in protest today against the parliament’s ban on wearing face veils in public.

The ban which becomes law today (August 1), will see many Muslim women and non-Muslim women protest by wearing face coverings at the rally.

In May, the Danish government had joined France and other European countries in banning the veil adding that the veil demeans women, making them seem like second-class citizens, which is not in line with the country’s democratic values.

Sabina, 21, who is studying to be a teacher, has joined forces with other Muslim women who wear the veil to form Kvinder I Dialog (Women In Dialogue) to protest and raise awareness about why women should be allowed to express their identity in that way

“I won’t take my niqab off. If I must take it off I want to do it because it is a reflection of my own choice,” she said.

“Everybody wants to define what Danish values are,” said Meryem, 20, who was born in Denmark to Turkish parents and has been wearing the niqab since before meeting her husband, who supports her right to wear it but feels life could be easier without.

“I believe that you have to integrate yourself in society, that you should get an education and so forth. But I don’t think wearing a niqab means you can’t engage yourself in Danish values,” Meryem, who has a place to study molecular medicine at Aarhus University, said.

Like Sabina, Meryem plans to defy the law, keep her niqab on and protest against the ban.

Under the law, police will be able to instruct women to remove their veils or order them to leave public areas. Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen said officers would fine them and tell them to go home.

Fines will range from 1,000 Danish crowns ($160) for a first offense to 10,000 crowns for a fourth violation.

“I feel this law legitimizes acts of hatred but, on the other hand, I feel people have become more aware of what is going on. I get more smiles on the street and people are asking me more questions,” said Ayah, 37.

Mathias Vidas Olsen, who makes reproductions of Viking age jewelry, is supporting the campaign by making special bracelets and giving the proceeds to Kvinder I Dialog.

“I’m not for or against the niqab,” the 29-year-old Copenhagen man said.

“I’m for the right of the people to wear whatever they want whether they be a Muslim or a punk.

“I see this as the government reaching in to places they don’t belong and as a cheap hit on an already stigmatized group to score cheap political points.”

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