Norwegians are the most critical of the niqab and burka in the Nordics

November 12, 2018 - 06:30

Norway is more critical of face-covering garments like the niqab and burka than their Nordic neighbours, shows new Pew Research survey.

Ayah (37) and Aisha (18) both wear the niqab. They participate in the"Kvinder i dialog" (Women in Dialogue) group that demonstrated against the new niqab ban in Denmark. (Photo: Andrew Kelly / Reuters / NTB scanpix)

In Denmark, women can now be hit with fine of approximately EUR 134 (a DKK 1,000) if they wear face-covering garments in public places.

Austria, Belgium, France, and parts of Italy and Spain, have introduced similar laws.

A study by the American Pew Research Center in fifteen Western European countries shows that these restrictions are in line with the prevailing attitude among the non-Muslim population of Western Europe.

But the views still differ considerably between Western European countries.

Clear majority oppose niqab in Norway

Among survey respondents in Norway, only 25 per cent answered that women should be able to wear any religious clothing they choose.

And 52 per cent say “yes” to religious garments as long as they do not cover women's faces. This rules out the niqab and burka.

A total of 20 per cent of the respondents in Norway favour restricting all types of religious clothing, including the hijab, which is a headscarf that covers the head and neck but not the face.

Approximately 1,500 Norwegians participated in the survey.

Norwegians are the most critical of the Nordic countries

Norwegians are the most critical of the niqab and burka in the Nordic region.

For example, in Sweden 49 per cent of those surveyed answered that women should be allowed to wear any religious clothing they wish.

The same view is held by 44 per cent of Finns and 37 per cent of Danes.

Read More: Faith is a private matter for young Norwegian Muslims

Norwegians middle of the road overall

The study also shows that Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Spain, have the most liberal attitudes on the burka, niqab, and hijab, in Western Europe.

At the opposite end of the scale are the Dutch, Belgian, Swiss, and Italians.

Norwegians fall somewhere in the middle, along with France, Britain, and Germany.

Read More: Gender-equality ideals make Muslim women more religious

A resounding “yes” to the hijab

Among the clear majority in Western Europe who favour certain restrictions on women's religious garments, the prevailing view is in favour of all kinds of clothing – as long as they do not cover the face.

Most respondents in Western Europe oppose the niqab (which covers a woman's whole face except her eyes) and the burka (which also has a mesh cloth in front of the eyes).

Only a minority in all countries also favour a ban on the hijab. Italians are the most critical of the hijab, with 31 per cent in favour of a ban.

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Read the Norwegian version of this article at forskning.no

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