Denmark ban on burqa goes into effect

Protests expected as Denmark's veil ban begins

Fines range from €134 to more than a thousand euros (€1340).

'We need to send a signal to the government that we will not bow to discrimination, ' student Sabina, 21, told Reuters.

Born and raised in Denmark by parents who emigrated from Turkey, she has worn the niqab since she was 18.

"I really hate this law, I think it's so embarrassing, and I can not stand being a citizen in this co-called democracy with this kind of law", said a protester in a mask.

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

"I feel this law legitimises acts of hatred but, on the other hand, I feel people have become more aware of what is going on. So much of politics is hypocritical".

Danes who approved of the ban also rallied in Copenhagen on Wednesday.

Under the new law, protesters who cover their faces while peacefully exercising their right of expression are exempt from ban.

"Its aim is to isolate a small religious group from society", Youssef said, adding that only 50 women wore veils in Denmark.

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Anyone forcing a person to wear garments covering the face by using force or threats can be fined or face up to two years in prison. Belgium, France and the German state of Bavaria, among other nations, have issued similar bans.

Marcus Knuth of the ruling Venstre party, said burqas and niqabs were "strongly oppressive".

Sasha Andersen of the "Party Rebels" activist group, is planning a protest against what they called a "discriminatory" measure against a minority group.

"All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs", Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International's deputy Europe director, said in a statement.

Human rights advocates have decried the law, claiming such a blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate.

Last month, the Danish parliament passed the so-called "ghetto laws" targeting low-income and predominantly immigrant communities which now require all children to attend nurseries from the age of one to learn "Danish values". "The regulation is particularly directed against Muslim women's clothing, such as the burqa or niqab", Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website advised.

Protests against the ban were planned in the capital Copenhagen and the second-biggest city Aarhus late Wednesday, with several hundred people expected to attend - some of them wearing the full-face veil.

The law gives police the power to order women either remove their face coverings or go home if they are in breach of the law, which carries fines ranging from 1,000 Danish crowns (£120 GBP) for first-time offenders and up to 10,000 crowns for breaching the rules for a fourth time. Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen said earlier this year it was also a matter of Danish values.

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