Norway’s conservative government is moving ahead with a plan to ban the burqa from the country’s schools.
Just a few weeks ago, Norway’s government said it didn’t favor such a ban, even though the opposition Labour Party had also voiced support for it. But now, according to The Local, they’re doing an about-face, and drafting regulations that will ban the burqa in schools and universities for both students and teachers.
The ban will only cover the burqa, which entirely covers the wearer’s face and body. More “revealing” garments, like the hijab and niqab (a veil exposing only the eyes), will remain legal.
The ban is likely to have only a small effect, as only a handful of Muslims in Norway wear the burqa anywhere at all. Nevertheless, like in many other European states, strict Islamic dress has become a flashpoint in the general debate over the steady growth of the country’s Muslim population. Supporters of bans claim the garments are a tool for oppressing women, while opponents argue that banning them is an attack on religious freedom.
Several European countries have passed laws restricting Islamic dress in some capacity. France and Belgium have both banned wearing a burqa or niqab in public. More than half of Germany bans the wearing of headscarves by female teachers. Swiss lawmakers are currently close to passing a total burqa ban as well.