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Norway braced for new burqa ban debate

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Photo: NTB Scanpix
12:06 CEST+02:00
Norway's Labour and Progress parties have stated that they would consider revisiting the issue of a Muslim veil ban in the wake of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that a public ban does not violate the human rights of Muslim women.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday gave support to France's claim that the statutory public prohibition of clothing which covers the face is within the framework of European human rights. 
 
"We must consider whether we should promote the proposal again, after the court in Strasbourg has now confirmed what we have constantly said: that a ban is compatible with human rights," said Mazyar Keshvari at the Progress Party (FRP) to the VG daily.
 
Jan Bøhler of the Labour Party (Ap) also claimed that the ruling of the court puts the Norwegian discussion about the controversial ban in a new light. 
 
"When parliament rejected such a ban in 2013, the main argument was that Norway risked being censured in the ECHR. Now that argument falls away. I think we need to take a new discussion about a possible ban," he told VG. 
 
Mazyar Keshvari however told NTB on Tuesday that the party recognized that a new vote in parliament would have little chance of success.
 
"Our position has been very clear all along, but we recognize that there is no majority for what we believe. Although the other parties' straw man argument doesn't hold after the verdict from Strasbourg, there is nothing to suggest that they will change their minds," he said.
 
Former Labour Party leader and current Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, welcomed the Strasbourg ruling.
 
"I think it is a positive judgement. It states that any person who participates in a community has an obligation to show their face, otherwise no other community members can relate to you," he told NRK.
 

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Jagland believes Tuesday's verdict opens up the prospect of a ban in Norway. 
 
"I would think that the judgement can be applied in exactly the same way in other member states, if they want a similar ban," he said.
 
Labour has previously been split down the middle on the issue. The Progress and Labour parties have a combined total of 84 representatives in Norway's parliament and are thus missing one vote in order to secure a majority for a possible ban.

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