Denmark: Three women wear a burka, 150-200 a niqab
Update: Fixed mix-up between burka and niqab
As was seen in France, the number of women who wear a burka/niqab is marginal, and converts are significantly over-represented.
The number of women who wear a burka in Denmark can be counted on one hand. Only three women hide themselves in a burka, while 150 to 200 women wear a a niqab.
Of those 60-80 are Danish women who converted to Islam. [30%-53%]
This according to a long awaited 69 page report which was provided by a research group at Copenhagen University to a civil service committee before Christmas, reports Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.
The difference between a burka and a niqab is that women with a burka have a net for their eyes.
The government's powerful coordination committee will discuss the recommendations from the civil service committee tomorrow, based on the counting by the researchers.
According to Jyllands-Posten's sources, the committee recommends new guidelines for state institutions and government jobs on the possibilities of asking a woman to remove her burka or niqab and of the possibility of refusing to pay welfare.
The civil servants will also deal with the problematics related to witnesses wearing a burka or niqab in court.
"We will discuss concrete situations in everyday life now. If you can drive a bus, go to exams or testify in court with your face covered," says integartion spokesperson for the Conservatives, Naser Khader.
The debate on banning the burka or niqab caused a split in between the coalition partners after the summer holiday in 2009. The Conservatives proposed banning the wearing of the Islamic dress, while several Liberal party members warned that the proposal conflicted with the constitutions. The lawyers of the Justice Ministry got to the same conclusion.
The Liberal Party integration spokesperson Karsten Lauritzen thinks per the study's results that it's now difficult to equate wearing the niqab and the oppression of women.
"I'm surprised at how many Danish converts there are. We can't say that they are more oppressed than people who willingly go into Scientology or the Moon movement [Unification Church]. I have difficulties saying that they aren't doing it willingly," says Karsten Lauritzen.
Like the great majority of the Liberal faction in parliament, he's always been against banning the burka and niqab. He's therefore happy that only a few women could be said to be coerced into wearing the burka or niqab in Denmark.
"I'm glad that aren't more. Since the less there are, the easier it is to do something about it," he says.
The Conservatives maintain that the burqa and niqab are a problem which politicians must act against.
"The question is why they wear this dress. You must be a little strange if you willingly wear a burka or niqab. There must still be an element of coercion in it, or otherwise it's a provocation," says political spokesperson Henriette Kjær.
A ban against burkas and niqabs are the lifeblood for the Danish People's Party, and the study results don't change their view on the issue.
"I think it's a high figure. I actually expected it to be lower, when you hear some of the criticisms that have been advanced. We are first and foremost principally opposed to what the burka and niqab stand for. We are so, regardless if there's one or 5,000 women with niqab," says Martin Henriksen, member of the DPP leadership.
Source: JP (Danish)
* Denmark: Conservative Party proposes burka ban
* Denmark: Danish converts to Islam face harassment
* Århus: School bans burkas