Majority of Danes reject ban on hijab at schools in new poll

More than half of Danes say in a new poll that they do not support a ban on the hijab in schools.

Majority of Danes reject ban on hijab at schools in new poll
A majority of Danes in a new poll say they do not want the country to ban the hijab at schools. Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

Over 55 percent of respondents to a new poll in Denmark say they do not want the country to ban the hijab at schools.

The topic of whether Denmark should continue to allow young Muslim girls to wear the hijab at school has come to prominence after a government-appointed commission last week recommended a ban on the religious garment at schools.

The recommendation received negative feedback from educators and two members of the committee subsequently said they had changed their view and no longer agreed with the recommendation of the commission.


In a poll conducted by Voxmeter on behalf of news agency Ritzau, 56.1 of respondents said ‘no’ to a ban on the hijab at schools.

A significantly lower proportion of 28.2 percent said ‘yes’ to such a ban while 15.7 percent answered ‘don’t know’.

The results come from a survey of 1,013 representative residents of Denmark over the age of 18, conducted between August 29th and September 1st.

A hijab is a head scarf worn by some Muslim and women girls, covering the hair but not the face. It is distinct from the niqab, which covers the face apart from the eyes, and the burka, which covers the entire face with a mesh enabling the wearer to see.

The stated purpose of the commission – which has been given the name “Commission for the Forgotten Women’s Struggle”— is to make recommendations on “how we in Denmark can ensure that women with minority backgrounds can enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other Danish women”.

In addition to a proposed school ban on hijabs, it released last week a total of nine different recommendations related to minority ethnic girls in Denmark.

It is set to make additional recommendations relating to young adults and adults in the coming months. The government is not obliged to table a bill based on the commission’s recommendations.

The hijab recommendation was criticised by faith organisation Dansk Islamisk Trossamfund, which said it would result in more polarisation and harm at schools.

Experts have meanwhile noted that enforcing such a ban might prove difficult legally because the Danish constitution and human rights laws guarantee freedom of religion.

A ban on a symbol of a specific religion could be considered religious discrimination, according to comments attributed by news wire Ritzau to University of Copenhagen professor of constitutional law Jens Elo Rytter.

Among the 28.2 percent – 268 people – who said in the poll that they supported a ban on the hijab at schools, 225 or 78.6 percent said it should be introduced even if this is in breach of religious freedom under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The commission also said it would favour a general ban on the use of religious symbols at schools in Denmark if this was necessary to secure a ban on the hijab.

Neither does this option enjoy the support of members of the public polled by Voxmeter.

60 percent said they were against “a ban on students or staff wearing religious symbols at schools, including state elementary schools and free schools”.

25.6 percent supported a ban in this scenario and 14.4 percent were unsure.

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Danish party’s historic TV ad ‘possibly illegal’

A Danish political party may have broken the law by having a commercial for its election campaign broadcast during a football match, according to an expert.

Danish party’s historic TV ad ‘possibly illegal’

Party political television commercials are not permitted in Denmark, making an ad for the Liberal Alliance party, which appeared during the UEFA Champions League tie between Manchester City and FC Copenhagen on Wednesday, a remarkable first in Danish politics.

In the ad, the libertarian party depicts a taxpayer calling the Danish tax services and struggling to resolve a problem.

By voting for Liberal Alliance, less bureaucracy would mean such a situation can be avoided, the party argues in the commercial.

But the ad is likely to be illegal in Denmark according to professor in marketing law at Copenhagen Business School Jan Trzaskowski.

“I find it hard to see how this could be legal. The rules are relatively clear when it comes to radio and TV,” Trzaskowski told news wire Ritzau.

The political commercial was shown on channel TV3+. Political advertisement is not permitted in Denmark on either commercial or non-commercial channels.

Liberal Alliance leader Alex Vanopslagh said on Wednesday that the ad had not broken the law because TV3+ is broadcast from Sweden.

But the loophole, known as the “broadcasting country principle”, does not apply in this case according to Trzaskowski.

“The basis [of the principle] is that if you have a broadcasting business established in a country, you only need to comply with the laws there,” he said.

“But that only applies with regard to what is harmonised with the [legal] directive. And political commercials are not,” he said.