Critics have argued the new law unfairly targets Muslim women.

A 28-year-old Muslim woman wearing a niqab has become the first person in Denmark to be fined since a controversial law banning face coverings in public places came into force this week.

Danish police were called to a shopping centre in Horsholm, north of Copenhagen, after the woman became involved in an altercation with another woman who had attempted to pull the garment off, AFP reported.

“During the fight her niqab came off, but by the time we arrived she had put it back on again,” police duty officer David Borchersen told the Ritzau news agency.

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The woman was reportedly told she would receive a fine of 1,000 kroner (Dhs570) in the post, and was asked to either remove her veil or leave the public space.

 

While the ban applies to all face coverings, including ski masks, fake beards and balaclavas, critics have argued the law unfairly targets Muslim women.

On Wednesday, around 1,300 Muslim and non-Muslim Danes descended on the streets of the capital, Copenhagen and second-biggest city, Aarhus, to protest for a woman’s right to cover up.

They chanted, “no racists in our streets” and “my life, my choice”. Others waved placards bearing messages such as “fingers away from my niqab”.

The Netherlands, Austria, France, Belgium and Germany have also taken action against Islamic veils in recent years. France became the first European country to ban the full-face veil from public spaces in 2011, with fines of up to €150 (Dhs640) for those caught wearing the garment.

Human Rights Watch said the new Danish law “only fuels existing stigma and Islamophobic sentiment”.

“Denmark’s ban is part of a worrisome trend that only marginalizes Muslim women in Europe and penalizes them for expressing their beliefs,” Women’s Rights Division researcher Hillary Margolis wrote.

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