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Denmark has just become the fifth European country to ban Islamic face veils such as the niqab and the burka.

In a 75 - 30 vote, with 74 abstainers, Danish MPs approved the law presented by the centre-right governing coalition on Thursday.

The government said it is not aimed at any religions and does not ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skull cap.

However, the law is popularly known as 'the burqa ban' and is largely thought to target conservative Muslim women who cover their faces with full-face veils.

First-time offenders risk a fine of 1,000 kroner (£118). Repeat offences could trigger fines of up to 10,000 (£1,118) kroner or a jail sentence of up to six months.

The justice minister, Søren Pape Poulsen, said that it would be up to police officers to enforce the law using their common sense when it comes into force on 1 August.

The law does allow people to cover their faces when there is a 'recognisable purpose', such as a scarf in cold weather, or a motorcycle helmet for safety.

Gauri van Gulik, the director of Amnesty International Europe condemned the move, and issued a statement:

All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa.

While some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion.

If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights, it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalises women for their choice of clothing and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.

There have been a mixture of reactions on Twitter, with some quick to condemn the move, while conservatives have been supportive of the ban.

Some nationalists claimed that the ban 'paves the way' for the UK to ban it, too:

Others are shocked and saddened by the move, and were quick to point out how hypocritical it is to purport to be a liberal country, yet to ban women from wearing what they want.

What do you think? Is the burqa ban right, or does it criminalise women for their choice of clothing?

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