The Islamic veil across Europe

Countries across the continent have wrestled with the issue of the Muslim veil – in various forms such as the body-covering burqa and the niqab, which covers the face apart from the eyes. The debate takes in religious freedom, female equality, secular traditions and even fears of terrorism. This article summarizes the current debates and statuses of France, Britain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Austria and Switzerland.

Danish Prime Minister: burqa unwelcome in Denmark

Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has dismissed face-veils as unwelcome in Denmark. “Neither the burqa nor the niqab have their place in Danish society. We meet each other at eye level, where we can see each other and where we gesticulate with each other,” Rasmussen asserted during his weekly press conference.

The comments came a day after a report, commissioned by the Social Affairs Ministry and written by University of Copenhagen researchers, showed that the niqab and the burqa are only worn by between 100 and 200 Muslim women in the country.

Denmark is home to some 100,000 Muslim women, who represent about 1.9 percent of the country’s total population of 5.5 million.

The issue has stirred a heated debate in Denmark and has divided the two-party coalition government since August 2009.