Norway is to ban the Muslim full face veil and other face-covering clothing, the first Scandinavian country to do so, in nurseries, schools and universities.
Most parties support the government bill, expected to pass next year, because “These clothes prevent good communication, which is important for students to receive a good education,” according to a statement from education minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen.
Interim immigration and integration minister Per Sandberg said being able to communicate with one another was a “fundamental value”.
Local authorities in Norway can already ban the full-face veil in schools but there is no national policy. However critics have questioned the bill’s relevance given that the full-face veil is not widely worn in the country.
Earlier this year the Islamic Council of Norway sparked uproar after hiring a communications officer who wore the niqab. The Council – which had received government grants to improve interfaith dialogue – was criticised by the culture minister, Muslim MPs and other Muslim organisations. It defended the move, saying Leyla Hasic was the best person for the job.