By Davut Colak
COPENHAGEN (AA) – Denmark has been discussing adding jail terms to a controversial ban on the wearing of face veils in public that came into force on Aug. 1.
Rachid Nekkaz, a French business executive of Algerian origin, has launched a fund against the burqa ban, which he called "illegal", and has paid fines of over 500 women who defied similar bans in six countries.
Nekkaz’s move led to talks within the Danish ruling coalition members — Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s Liberal party and far-right Danish People's Party (DF) — arguing that prison terms should be brought into the legislation.
“You may pay fines for others, but you cannot serve terms for others,” said Martin Henriksen, the immigration and integration spokesman and DF lawmaker.
Violators are to be punished with a fine of up to 1,000 kroner ($156). Repeat offenders could be fined up to 10,000 kroner ($1,563).
According to a 2010 study by the University of Copenhagen, only 150-200 women wear the Islamic face veil in Denmark and only three women wear the burqa.
It is estimated that Muslims account for about 7 percent of Denmark's population of 5.7 million.