Lotte Bundsgaard, ruling party Social Democrats spokesperson for integration, supports the Odense council proposal to ban burkas for kindergarten teachers and says that women who do not reveal their faces should not work in public service.
The discussion started when an ethnic Danish Muslim woman in Vollsmose wanted to work as a kindergarten teacher while wearing clothing that covered her from head to toe. The woman was unreachable for contact and so it is unclear whether her face was revealed or not.
Whether the face is wholly, partially or not covered is however a minor issue, according to Bundsgaard. The question is whether the municipality can make such a rule that forbids a veiled woman from taking care of children.
She says the parliament should not get involve in this issue but that there are limits. People can't have a law to force covering the face at a public job since a big part of communication relies on the face. She says that as a municipal politician she would also require that some veils will not be allowed, but that is not something that can be decided by the government.
In the Liberal Party of Denmark and the Conservatives there's no support for colleague Jane Jegind from Odense.
Irene Simonsen, integration spokesperson for the Liberal Party says this is not a public issue. If a person is accredited as a kindergarten teacher and the pedagogic principles are in order, then people can't intervene in their dress.
To the question whether there aren't limits she said that she doesn't want to debate veiling and she is not sure whether the woman in question covers her face. Additionally it is in her home.
Irene Simonsen doesn't think there's anything that prohibits a municipality from passing regulations on clothing for public service employees.
It's a local decision, Simonsen says. People can have a dress code, in private establishments as well as public ones, including having a dress code for kindergarten teachers.
Jane Jegind of the Odense council thinks it sends the wrong integration signal. The alderman stresses that private care enterprises are good and ensure choice, but that requires that there are some limit that should be adhered to. She says that she is certainly not talking about just covering the hair.
Is the woman wholly veiled?
Jegind says she can't answer that but that she is wearing a type of burka that covers her. She adds that this is an ethnic Danish woman and that she acts as a role model for children. To support society with equal rights.
According to imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen, there is no requirement for a woman to be covered at home or when taking care of children. That is, when a woman is alone, or in the company of other women and children, or when taking care of children, but rather, only when in the company of strange men.
Additionally, most Muslims don't think there's a requirement to wear the burka at all and see a veil as sufficient. [Note: All this means is that this woman is not following the same religious rules that Pedersen follows.]
He estimates that there are about 50-100 Danish Muslim women who wear a burka. [Another note: the estimate in the Netherlands, with a population of 16 million is that there are 50 women who wear a burqa. In Denmark there's about 5.5 million people.]
Sources: Berlingske 1, 2 (Danish)