Legoland: Niqabis and ninjas still welcome despite Danish face veil ban
Legoland will continue to admit women who wear the niqab despite a new law banning the face veil, which came into force in Denmark on Wednesday.
But a spokesperson for the world-famous attraction told Middle East Eye that Danish police would have full authority to enforce the ban inside the park.
“We will not reject access for people who wear the niqab in Legoland. The Danish police is the authority who must enforce this legislation in practice,” said Kasper Tangsig, Legoland's senior public relations manager.
The niqab is a head scarf that covers all of a woman’s face except for her eyes and is worn by a small minority of Muslim women, estimated to number about 150, in Denmark.
Tangsig said that guests wearing the niqab would also be welcome to stay at the on-site Legoland Hotel and the Legoland Holiday Village in Billund, central Jutland.
Asked whether Legoland would support the police if they attempted to enforce the ban on people entering the park or inside the park, Tangsig added: “Legoland is a public place and the Danish Police has full authority to enforce current legislation in Legoland. We have a close corporation with the Danish Police, and we always follow their instructions.”
Legoland is one of Denmark's most popular attractions and a showcase for the iconic toy brick that is one of the country's most recognisable exports, drawing visitors from all over the world.
A campaign group representing niqabis on Wednesday accused the Danish government of legalising oppression, discrimination and Islamophobia as the country became the latest in Europe to criminalise the face veil – and vowed to defy the ban.
The ban was also condemned by Amnesty International.
"All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa," said Fotis Filippou, the human rights campaign group's deputy director for Europe.
The new law gives police the power to issue on-the-spot fines to people who cover their faces in public without a “recognisable purpose”, and to order them to remove the covering.
Offenders can be fined 1,000 kroner ($157) on the first three occasions, rising to 10,000 kroner ($1,570) for a fourth offence.
Guidance issued to police says that they can arrest someone for refusing to comply with the law if they consider it necessary, but that police should "proceed as gently and considerately as the situation allows".
"The justice minister has repeatedly emphasised that he does not want to see humiliating or degrading scenes in connection with the enforcement of the ban, and that he certainly does not expect the police to remove people's clothes," the guidance says.
In order to avoid breaching laws about religious freedom, the face covering law has been cast widely to potentially include false beards, balaclavas, masks and helmets.
The guidance says that the ban is "more specifically intended to promote and facilitate social interaction and co-existence".
Police should take into consideration the season and the weather conditions to determine whether someone might be wearing a face covering as protection against the cold, it also says, while face coverings worn as part of costumes for festivals or carnivals are also permitted.
France, Belgium, Austria and Bulgaria have also banned women from wearing the veil in public, while restrictions exist in some public settings in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway.
Last year, police in Austria were reported to have raided a Lego store after receiving a complaint that a man was flouting the country's face-covering ban by dressed as a Ninjago character.
Translation: Police storm Lego Store in Vienna. Reason: violation of the ban
Ninjago is a range of Lego toys featuring masked ninjas. It was heavily promoted by the company last year around the launch of a spinoff movie.
Tangsig said Legoland was not worried that people in Ninjago masks would potentially be affected by the ban.
“Denmark is an amazing place, and we believe, that Denmark and Legoland will continue to be an attractive holiday destination for families with kids,” he said.