A 28-year-old woman in a face veil has become the first person fined under new laws in Denmark banning the wearing of traditional Muslim garments in public places.
Danish news agency Ritzau reported that police were called to a shopping centre in Horsholm near the capital Copenhagen to confront a woman wearing a niqab covering most of her face.
The woman was fined 1000 Danish kroner ($210) and asked to either remove the veil or leave the premises. She reportedly opted to leave.
An initial report into the altercation on Friday suggested that one woman was trying to remove the other’s veil, but police said it was not clear if that was the case.
“During the fight her niqab came off, but by the time we arrived she had put it back on again,” police spokesperson David Borchersen told Ritzau.
Police reviewed CCTV footage to determine whether the second woman had intentionally pulled off the veil, and believed it was incidental to the fight.
Both women were charged with violating the peace and police said one had also been charged with violating the full-face veil law.
Laws, which came into effect on August 1, prohibit the wearing of full-body burqas, as well full face coverings.
While it does not mention burkas and niqabs by name, the law, known as the “burqa ban” says “anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine”.
A niqab is a traditional Muslim face covering that allows only the eyes to be visible.
The government maintains the law is not aimed at any particular religion and does not ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skull cap.
Under the new law, people are permitted to cover their face when there is a “recognisable purpose” like cold weather or complying with other legal requirements, such as using motorcycle helmets.
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.