Defying a new Swedish law that prohibits full face coverings at public events, such as political rallies and sports matches, keen football (soccer) fans donned Islamic garments at the game instead.
Members of the so-called AIK Ultras, the dedicated fans of Stockholm’s Allmänna Idrottsklubben (AIK) team, also unfurled a giant banner at the match in Sweden Sunday thanking the law for a religious provision loophole.
Swedish law specifically bans people in “a public place attending a public meeting under the Public Order Act” if there is a disturbance of the peace, or “immediate danger of such a breach” — making full face coverings generally illegal at football games. Those breaking the law can be fined or imprisoned for up to six months.
Yet understanding of particular religious minorities in Sweden means the second paragraph of the face covering law created an exception: “The ban does not apply to covering the face for religious reasons.”
La Suède ayant interdit le port de masques et cagoules dans les stades, les ultras portent désormais des niqabs…. dont le port est légal. pic.twitter.com/eYUK2In6Yo
— PassionFootball Club (@PassionFootClub) April 4, 2017
Speaking to bestselling Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet’s Sportbladet section, Minister of Home Affairs Ygeman said he found the episode “pretty funny” and said the fans clearly had a sense of humour — but said if fans continued to use the religious exception the courts may decide the legal loophole doesn’t apply on a case-by-case basis if they found niqab-wearing men up before them.
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