Reinfeldt: no burqa ban in Sweden

Reinfeldt: no burqa ban in Sweden
A young girl peers out from a group of Afghan women wearing the burqa covering
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said definitively on Thursday that he is against introducing legislation which would ban women from wearing burqas.

“No, that’s not something I want,” he told the TT news agency.

The clarification comes following a Wednesday night debate with Social Democratic leader Mona Sahlin on Sveriges Radio in which both offered their views on prohibiting burqas in Sweden.

A parliamentary commission in France recently used a public buildings and transport bill to proposed a law which would ban the wearing of head-to-toe veils in public.

During the debate, Sahlin clearly rejected the idea of a similar proposal in Sweden, while Reinfeldt expressed himself somewhat more cautiously, which led to questions as to where exactly he stands on the issue.

But on Thursday he attempted to clarify that he would not support a law banning burqas, which he said would be “counterproductive”.

“Legislation shouldn’t lead to certain women being isolated even more from Swedish society,” he said.

Centre Party integration spokesperson Annika Qarlsson also said on Thursday that her party was against such a ban.

“We don’t support creating a law to regulate it, it should be a free choice. It would only turn a rarely occurring problem into something bigger than it is. However, it may be relevant to have rules in certain workplaces for purely professional reasons but it’s not something that should be solved through legislation,” Qarlsson told TT.

Reinfeldt highlighted the need for a society-wide debate that is not just restricted to the issue of burqas.

“Most of all it’s important that young girls who move here or are born to parents who come from another country, hear from leading opinion makers that we believe in our own concept of freedom and that it also includes them,” he said.