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>> Protesters in Copenhagen openly defying a new Danish law to ban face covering in public, even though covering up now risks a fine of up to $1,500. And while Wednesday's new law bans all kinds of face covering, these activists say the real target is the Islamic veil. 21 year old Sabine says few women actually wear the niqab in Denmark, making the law more about sending a message than solving a problem.
She didn't want to give her last name for fear of harassment.>> That just shows that the government is actually using money, using time and power to discriminate against fifty women. Even before the ban but also like after. We have had people spit on us. We have had multiple Niqab wearing women have their Niqabs ripped off their faces.
So we are victims of a lot of hate crimes.>> The Islamic veil has been growing as a hot button issue across Europe. The debate pits advocates of religious freedom against some European leaders. Who say it hinders integration and poses a security risk. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel said she considers it to be a big obstacle to integration.
Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz said it was a symbol for a counter-society.>>
>> France was the first country in Western Europe to ban face-covering in 2011. Then President, Nicolas Sarkozy said the veil was not welcome in the country.>>
> Since then, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Bulgaria, and Latvia have enacted similar measures.
The Netherlands and Germany have partial bans, that prohibit face covering in some public buildings, and for some public sector workers. And Spain, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland have introduced regional bans, but stopped short of a nationwide law. Mass migration to Europe has only intensified the debate in recent years.
Millions of asylum seekers and informants have entered the EU mostly from the Middle East and Africa. What to do about the veil is a very visible part of the bigger argument over how to handle the new arrivals.