Anyone wearing full-face ‘Burqa’ in public will be fined €150 and must remove garment ‘on the spot’
The Austrian government has approved a ban on full-face veil under new ‘integration’ policy. The government said the law, which says faces must be visible from the hairline to the chin, was about protecting Austrian values.
It comes after the general election when far-right Freedom Party and other parties started a continuous campaign on anti-immigration message.
A ban on full-face coverings, Muslim veils such as those worn in burkas, comes into force in Austria today as anti-immigration parties look poised to win national elections later this month.
The measures, similar to those in other European Union countries, also apply to visitors even though large numbers of Arab tourists holiday in the Alpine country.
Muslim groups have condemned the law, saying just a tiny minority of Austrian Muslims wear full-face veils. Around 700,000 Muslims are living in the country.
Only under the certain condition like cultural events will allow people to wear them in public. If devout Muslim women wearing the full-face and body veil in public will be fined €150 ($177) on the spot.
The ban was part of a larger package of measures defended as a way to integrate migrants. The requirements include making all recent migrants participate in classes to learn the German language, as well as Austrian norms and values.
Austria’s parliament approved the ban in May despite protests from Muslim groups and opposition from lawyers and the country’s own President.
The Austrian government says the law safeguards Austrian values and the concept of a free society. The legislation was brought in by the outgoing centrist government of Chancellor Christian Kern.
Officials have carefully marketed the law, termed “Prohibition on the Covering of the Face”, as being religiously-neutral by also restricting the donning of medical masks, party masks, and scarves in public.
The government’s decision to ban the burqa sparked protests across the country. Austria president, Alexander Van der Bellen, had opposed the law, saying: “It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants”.
The ban comes after France and Belgium introduced similar bans in 2011. The Dutch parliament is also debating a similar law.