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Norway Seeks to Ban Full-Face Veil in Schools
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Norway Seeks to Ban Full-Face Veil in Schools

Source: politico.eu

Norway wants to ban full-face Muslim veils in schools and universities while teaching is taking place, arguing the garments prevent good communication between students and teachers.

The bill, announced Friday, is a watered-down version of the government’s original proposal from last June, when it suggested a general ban on face-covering veils in educational institutions. The government made the changes in light of criticism it received during the consultation period.

“Pupils, students and teachers must be able to see each other’s faces,” said Iselin Nybø, Norway’s minister for research and higher education. “We believe that we have found a good balance between ensuring a good learning environment and the individual’s freedom.”

The proposed law would apply to students and teachers and would also include school trips and educational sessions meant to help with homework.

It would also apply to newly arrived migrants participating in introductory programs or other kinds of educational training.

The only exception are kindergartens, where employees would be banned from wearing the garment during all working hours. The proposed rules would not apply to the wearing of headscarves.

Oslo is following in the footsteps of European countries such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands, which imposed restrictions on wearing burqas and niqabs.

However, Norway would be the first Nordic country to introduce such a ban, reflecting a growing polarization of the immigration debate in the region and across Europe.

Students risk being expelled and employees losing their job if they break the rules several times, the government said.

Nybø was joined by her counterparts from the integration and finance ministries during the announcement. The three represent the three governing coalition parties, including the anti-immigration Progress Party. This was meant to indicate widespread support for bill, which is expected to pass later this year.

Critics have questioned the relevance of the bill since there are not many women wearing the full face veil in Norway.

The Norwegian Student Organization had criticized the government’s original proposal, arguing it would force people to choose between their religion and their education.

Norwegian media reported that the Progress Party wants to go further and ban face-covering garments in public spaces.

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