Government proposes ban on face-covering garments

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Norway’s conservative government coalition is moving forward with plans to ban garments in schools that cover the wearer’s face. The ban will apply to the nikab or burqa worn by some Muslim women and to anyone wearing masks or winter gear known as finlandshetter.

The proposed national ban will not apply to caps, hats or head scarves including the hijab. Education Minister Torbjørn Roe Isaksen said at a press conference Monday that “face-covering garments can hinder good communication and learning.” Per Sandberg, Norway’s acting minister in charge of immigration and integration, said that the government views clothing that covers the face as oppressing women, and that “doesn’t belong in Norway.” Sandberg is stepping in for Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug, who is on maternity leave. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) pointed out how she has earlier said there is little use of nikabs in Norwegian schools, and they were not a big problem.

The government’s proposed ban has broad support in Parliament, however, with the opposition Labour Party and Center Party backing it and even trying to take credit for it. The Center Party doubted there was time, however, to enact the ban before Parliament recesses for the summer. Only the Liberal Party and the Socialist Left party (SV) think current rules, which allow the schools themselves to ban face-covering locally, are good enough.

The Norwegian students union also opposes a ban, claiming that everyone should have equal opportunity and access to, for example, higher education. A general ban on women wearing a nikab doesn’t allow that, claimed Marianne K Andenæs, leader of Norsk studentorganisajon (NSO). staff

  • richard albert

    I am not offering a solution to a vexatious problem, as I am not an expert on this social dynamic in Norway, but this seems to trope the difficulties that Sikhs have experienced with the obligatory Kirpan, or knife. Children were being denied schooling, and children and adults were being excluded from some venues. No discoverable incidents of violence or injury; the area may be littered with scissors and the cafeteria has real cutlery, so ripping off a Sikh kid so you can stab someone is a bit far-fetched. Partial solutions where crafted; the Kirpan being worn under clothing and/or being riveted into a sheath have had some success. Just brainstorming: how about having a burqa license with an automobile-style tag on an outer garment. The fact that you are wearing the outfit tells everyone of your faith; so it really is not like the infamous Nazi-imposed Stars of David. Major objection might be that would be too easy to fake. So are license plates. So are passports and driver licences. I really don’t think the London Bridge criminals would be much bothered by an ordinance against balaclavas, and wear fake tags to avoid detection, but you never know. So while this may be a stupid idea, it is at least an idea. The excellent article on the new US embassy and the dialog and cooperation which overcame local NIMBY objections and onerous zoning and building codes is an illustration that by putting aside posturing, tantrums and bed-wetting one really can produce results. Okay, NSO. You oppose it; sit down and use your massive intellects to help find a better one… (Have to stop now, my soap-box is starting to crumble under the weight of all the rhetoric.)