Danish politicians passed a law Thursday banning clothing that covers the face, making wearing full-face Islamic veils like the burqa and niqab in public punishable with a $160 fine.

While the government says the law doesn’t target any religion, the party that first suggested the law nine years ago, the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, said it was a reflection that full-face Islamic veils were incompatible with Danish culture. The party rose to become the second-largest party in the parliament in the 2015 elections.

The move follows the passage of similar laws in France, Belgium and Austria amid growing anti-immigrant sentiment, but critics in Denmark say it impinges on women’s rights to dress in accordance with their religious beliefs.

“If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights, it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalises women for their choice of clothing and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold,” saidAmnesty International’s Europe director Gauri van Gulik.

Van Gulik added it would “have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa.”

“All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs,” she said.

Lawmakers voted 75-30 in favor of the law, which was held under an agreement whereby individual MPs were free to vote in accordance with their personal views. More than 70 politicians opted not to cast a vote.

SOURCE – Vice News