Norway passes ban on burkas in universities

Parliamentary moves to outlaw Islamic face veils from classrooms have been strongly criticised by universities

June 20, 2018
Woman wearing a niqab

Norway has passed a law banning niqabs and burkas at all education institutions.

The new bill, which Norway’s parliament passed in early June, will apply to students and teachers alike at schools and universities, as well as to staff at day-care centres in “teaching situations”.

Proposals to outlaw all clothing that fully or partially covers the face in education providers were backed by a majority in two rounds of voting separated by three days, in accordance with Norway’s parliamentary procedure, the Local website reported.

The new rule over face veils, which was proposed last year, was welcomed by the anti-immigration Progress Party, which called it “very good news”.

“When Progress in 2003 proposed a total ban on the niqab and burka, we were laughed at,” Åshild Bruun-Gundersen, an MP with the party, told the newspaper Bergens Tidende, adding that “in a few years’ time, we believe that Norwegian politicians will be ready to pass a total ban on the niqab in public”.

Several universities have, however, spoken out against the law. The NHH Norwegian School of Economics called it “strange and dramatic”, while the University of Bergen and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology both said it was unnecessary.

The law follows a similar bill that was passed by Denmark last month and was criticised by human rights groups including Amnesty International.

“The ban is a clear signal that in Norway we expect to see each other’s faces,” said Ms Bruun-Gundersen, who said that she would “continue to work towards a total ban”.

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