18:18 GMT +315 October 2018
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    Danish Policewoman Probed for Hugging Niqab-Wearing Protester

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    A ban on full-face veils in public places has exposed deep divisions in Danish society, with some arguing that it upholds secular and democratic values and others that it infringes on freedoms of religion and self-expression.

    A Copenhagen policewoman is being investigated after Reuters published a photo of her hugging a niqab-wearing woman during an August 1 rally protesting against a nationwide ban on wearing face veils in public, the force's complaints body announced on Wednesday.

    "The police's job is to enact the law, not to hug people who are against it," said Marcus Knuth, a lawmaker with the anti-immigrant Liberal Party, which is the biggest member of the country’s coalition government.

    "The photo has made the police an involuntary actor in a very sensitive political debate which they should not participate in,” he added.

    Knuth and others alerted the independent complaints body over the incident, where the protesting woman appeared to be in tears.

    The policewoman’s lawyer said that the officer felt she had handled the situation appropriately within her role as a "dialogue officer,” a role specifically created to ease tension during protests, Reuters wrote.

    In May, Danish lawmakers passed a ban on wearing garments covering the face in public, joining a number of European countries that have already introduced such bans.

    The government says, however, that the law is not aimed at religions.

    READ MORE: 'Irreparable Harm': Second Judge in Canada Suspends Implementation of Niqab Ban

    Danish society is bitterly split over the ban, with advocates arguing that it upholds secular and democratic values, while critics say that it violates the freedoms of religion and self-expression.

    France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have all imposed some restrictions on full-face veils in public places.

    Related:

    'Great News': Public Reacts to Denmark's First Fine for Violating Full Veil Ban
    'Stopping Political Islam': Denmark Bans Islamic Full-Face Veil in Public Places
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    a hug, policewoman, niqab ban, probe, protest, Liberal Party (Denmark), Marcus Knuth, Denmark
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