When the Danish government enforced a new rule, on August 1, that meant any woman wearing a full-face veil would be fined it sparked demonstrations, and now one designer has used his turn at Copenhagen Fashion Week to protest Denmark’s controversial new law. Iranian-born creative Reza Etamadi dressed models in burqas and niqabs as he showcased the latest collection for his label MUF10, days after the regulations came into effect.
Etamadi also dressed models as police officers, who then handed flowers to women in Muslim dress during the display. “I have a duty to support all women’s freedom of speech and freedom of thought,” he told AP of his decision to use his platform in protest. “In Denmark, where I grew up, women were free to choose how dressed or covered they wanted to dress.” Earlier this month, the Scandinavian nation implemented a nationwide ban which outlaws the wearing of facial coverings, such as motorbike helmets and balaclavas, in public. Just days after the regulations came into effect, a 28-year-old Muslim woman was slapped with a fine of more than SAR/AED 500 for wearing a niqab.
Under the new Danish law, those found wearing facial coverings in public will be fined 1,000 kroner, while repeat offenders can be fined up to 10,000 kroner (SAR/AED 5,700). While it has been dubbed the “burqa ban”, the regulations do not explicitly state the Islamic veil is outlawed. However, many Muslim women feel the new law infringes on their freedom, leading to protests across the nation. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Copenhagen and Aarhus wearing the full-face veil, others joined in support, mocking the new legislation, wearing face masks. All protestors were exempt from fines as the new law allows people to “express themselves freely” in peaceful protests.
“Anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine,” the law states – however, campaigners have argued the law deliberately targets Muslim women. Human Rights Watch called the regulations “discriminatory,” adding that it was the “latest in a harmful trend” that follows the suit of similar laws in France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Belgium. Following his show, Etamadi revealed that he had no “unanimous attitude” towards the ban in general, but he did have one principle that the new law clashed with: “No man should decide what women should wear.”