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Norway proposes to ban Islamic face veil in schools and universities amid security concerns

Norway’s government has announced plans to ban the full-face Islamic veil, also known as ‘burqa’ or ‘niqab’, from its education institutions.

According to local reports, its Education Minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen said that the government is looking into implementing “national regulations prohibiting the full-face veil in schools and universities.”

Several Norwegian political parties have expressed their support for such a ban, even the opposition Labour Party.

Roe Isaksen clarified, however, that the ban would not include Islamic headscarves that leave the face exposed, such as the hijab, as “people should be allowed to express their faith in public”.

“I want a young Christian girl who wears a cross to be able to show it. ‘I want a Jewish boy who wears a kippa to be able to show it. And I do not want a ban on the hijab,” he told parliament.

However, many critics of the proposal have pointed out that the country’s Muslim women rarely wear such the burqa in public, let alone in classrooms or lecture halls, and questioned whether it was more a political move, with less than a year to go before parliamentary elections.

The proposed ban comes amid rising concerns over Islamic terror attacks in Europe, which has seen many countries hotly debating over whether religious veils that cover the face should be allowed.

Last week, Bulgaria officially banned the burqa, issuing a warning that those who refuse to comply will face fines of up to £665 (US$830), as well as a suspension of social security benefits, while Switzerland is also close to introducing a veil ban, as its lower house recently approved a draft bill.

In August, Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that the face veil “has no place” in Germany, as it showed a lack of integration.

After several French seaside towns enforced a controversial ban on burkinis (Islamic swimwear that covers women’s bodies and hair) recently, a photo which showed armed French police confronting a woman on a beach and making her remove her burkini went viral, drawing criticism around the world.

In the UK, a YouGov poll found that the majority of the British public would support a ban on wearing the burqa, by a margin of more than two-to-one.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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