Danish government rejects plan to forbid hijab in schools

The government will not back a motion from the Danish People's Party (DF) to ban pupils and staff from wearing hijabs in elementary schools, according to the Minister for Immigration and Integration.

Danish government rejects plan to forbid hijab in schools
The Minister for Immigration and Integration said that Danish law prevents a ban on hijabs in schools being implemented. Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The government on Tuesday hit back a proposal from the far-right Danish People’s Party for the parliament to debate a ban on Islamic headscarves in schools.

In a written comment, immigration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said that while Denmark faces “serious challenges with negative social control and oppression of young girls in certain environments”, such a ban would contravene Danish law.

“It is the legal assessment that the proposal to ban Islamic headscarves in primary schools cannot be implemented within the framework of the Constitution and Denmark’s international obligations,” he wrote.

“Therefore, the government cannot support the proposal. But we will nevertheless continue to fight honour-related coercion and oppression and negative social control,” the minister also stated.

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 decision now puts into question the government’s position on recommendations from a commission appointed by the previous government, made in August 2022.

The “Commission for the Forgotten Women’s Struggle” as it was named, made recommendations on “how we in Denmark can ensure that women with minority backgrounds can enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other Danish women.”

It had nine different recommendations related to minority ethnic girls in Denmark, including a proposed school ban on hijabs. The commission 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.

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

Other recommendations included groups at preschools that “reflect the population” and courses on Danish ways of raising children for “selected minority ethnic parents”.

The government is not obliged to table a bill based on the commission’s recommendations.

Two out of the ten members of the commission reversed their support for the school hijab ban last August.

Dybvad Bek said at the time that the Ministry of Justice needed to look at the legal framework of the proposal. Newspaper Berlingske reported that he said, “if a simple model can be made that doesn’t cause other problems, I think it’s a super good idea.”

The Liberal party (Venstre) did not reject the proposal in August but Moderates leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen told newspaper Politiken at the time that “it is not Denmark” to legislate on either headwear or religious symbols in general. 

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

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KEY POINTS: What is in Denmark’s 2023 budget proposal?

Denmark’s coalition government presented on Thursday a new budget proposal in which it said it was “stepping on the brakes” on state spending.

KEY POINTS: What is in Denmark’s 2023 budget proposal?

Danish budgets are usually tabled and eventually adopted during the autumn, but last year’s election disrupted the normal timetable.

The proposed budget, given the title “A Responsible Way Forward” (En ansvarlig vej frem) was presented by ministers from the three coalition parties on Thursday: Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen, acting Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen and Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt.

A cautious economic approach to spending is needed given global circumstances including the war in Ukraine, inflation and last year’s energy crisis, Wammen said.

“Even though a lot of things look good when we look at the Danish economy, that doesn’t change where we are. Uncertain times,” he said.

Engel-Schmidt added that some might describe the proposed budget as “boring”, given that it “doesn’t bring a shower of presents”.

Key points from the proposed budget are outlined below. The proposal will go into negotiations with other parties in parliament before being voted through in its final form.

Inflation assistance to lower income groups 

Last year saw the highest inflation rate for 40 years in Denmark, and the effects will still be felt in 2023 even if the inflation percentages themselves are less severe.

Although the government wants to “step on the brakes”, it has still set aside 2.4 billion kroner for financial assistance to people vulnerable to rising prices.

Some 1.1 billion kroner will be spent on 5,000 kroner “cheques” for elderly persons who receive social welfare. People who have high medicine costs and students who receive subsidies because they must provide for others, such as single parents (SU-forsørgertillæg) are also among groups to be assisted with the inflation spending.

READ ALSO: Danish government agrees inflation package for vulnerable families 

‘Acute plan’ for hospitals

An agreement with regional health authorities on an “acute” spending plan to address the most serious challenges faced by the health services has already been agreed, providing 2 billion kroner by the end of 2024.

The agreement was announced by the government along with regional and municipal officials in February.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?

‘Lower than ever’ reserve fund

A so-called “negotiation reserve” (forhandlingsreserve), a pool of money in the budget that can be allocated at a later date based on agreements between parties, has been significantly cut to 200 million kroner.

A 2023 budget proposal from August last year, which was not adopted due to the election, had the fund at 600 million kroner. The reserve has been as high as 1.5 billion kroner in the past, according to broadcaster DR’s report on Thursday’s proposal.

The previous, single-party Social Democratic government was reported to favour mental health services and the elderly as areas which could benefit from the fund in 2023.

The lower amount is partly due to the shorter timescale of this year’s budget. The 2024 budget will be proposed and passed in late 2023 under the regular timetable.

“There are still things we can prioritise but we are asking you to take responsibility to get Denmark through while inflation is still a major challenge,” Wammen said.

Spending on courts system

Some 32.2 million kroner has been put aside to specifically target a reduction in waiting times for court dates, DR writes. The money is part of a larger amount, 185 million kroner, to be spent on the courts.

Denmark’s courts system has in recent years seen a rising number of criminal cases and lengthy processing times.

Broadband internet to get boost in rural spending

The “broadband fund” or bredbåndspulje will get an additional 100 million kroner to improve coverage in areas that still have patchy connection.

Another 100 million kroner will go into the landsbypulje or “Village Fund”, giving rural municipalities funding for demolition or renovation of deteriorated buildings.


A majority in parliament has already voted in favour of a seven-billion kroner fund in 2023 to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion.

The fund will be spent on Danish military, civilian and commercial assistance to Ukraine.

Part of the spending is funded by Denmark’s international development budget, while over 5 billion comes from spending an increased portion of the national GDP on the 2023 budget.

READ ALSO: Denmark announces seven-billion kroner Ukraine fund