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Norway proposes ban on full-face veils in schools, universities

Stockholm – Norway’s government asked parliament on Friday to approve a national ban on the use of full-face veils in all education facilities – ranging from day care centres to universities.

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“A ban against garments that cover the face will ensure open communication with children, pupils, students and newly arrived immigrants in teaching situations,’’ said Jan Sanner, Minister of Education and Integration.

The bill announced on Friday was expected to pass as several opposition parties, including the main opposition Labour Party, have earlier stated they back a ban.

“Norway is an open society where everyone should be able to see each other’s face,” Finance Minister, Siv Jensen, said.

The proposal, announced in June, has been subject to a review by various agencies and institutions.

The ban would include full-face veils like the niqab, balaclavas and face masks, but not woolen hats, protective masks or the hijab.

The government said the ban would apply for employees at day care centres, but not children enrolled there, as young children rarely wear the niqab or burqa.

At schools, adult training institutions, universities and colleges the ban would only apply during teaching situations.

Teachers and students would be allowed to wear garments covering the face during breaks, the statement added.

“We believe we have struck a good balance,’’ said Iselin Nybo, Minister of Research and Higher Education.

Sanner belongs to Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s conservatives, who rule with Jensen’s right-wing populist Progress Party, and Nybo’s Liberals.

The National Union of Students, Norway’s largest, with about 230,000 members, opposed a ban. (dpa/NAN)


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