Algerian businessman pledges to pay veil fines in Denmark
An Algerian businessman on Saturday said he would pay all the fines faced by women in Denmark who choose to wear full-face veils.
The Danish government on Feb. 6 proposed a ban on full-face veils in public spaces. The measure has yet to be approved.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in front of the Danish parliament, Rasheed Nekkaz said that he had already paid 1,538 fines for women facing similar circumstances in six countries, including France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria and Germany.
Nekkaz is famed for paying the fines of women who wear full-face veils or burqas after the garments were banned in many European countries, including France, in 2010.
The Algerian businessman and political activist amassed a fund of 1 million euros to pay for these fines.
"Governments in Europe aren't producing solutions for Muslims to adapt to Europe, which is why Muslim communities in Europe need to be much stronger in order to protect their interests," he said.
"It is very important for me to be able to give European governments the message on restricting freedom that they can't just do whatever they want," he said.
"If there is a veil ban in a country on those who want to wear them, I will be the one paying their fines," he added.
Nekkaz said that before Denmark, he traveled to Iran to support the freedom of 29 women arrested on March 8 for refusing to wear veils on International Women's Day.
"The reason I'm here isn't to defend religion, but to defend freedom. The principle of freedom is a universal right," he said.
"So I defend the freedom of those who want to wear veils in Europe and those who don't want to wear veils in Iran," he said.
Nekkaz said that it is important that the Danish government understands that the women are wearing veils of their own free will.
At a Saturday protest at the Danish parliament, Sara, a 30-year-old Turkish woman, told Anadolu Agency that the veil ban would limit her freedom.
As she wears the veil, Sara said that the ban would prevent her from going outside.
Sara said that among Denmark's 5.7 million population, only about 50 women wear the veil.
Sara stated that the veil ban is just the beginning of other bans targeting Muslims.
"My question to Danish politicians is: You speak about freedom, but where is our freedom? Where is our freedom of religion?" she asked.