Austria’s ‘burka ban is now official, prohibiting face veils in public places. The ban is really on full-face coverings in general, that includes Muslim veils such as burkas. This is happening as anti-immigration parties are looking to win national elections later this month.
According to the BBC, the new law states that faces must be visible from the hairline to the chin in public places. This includes off-slope ski masks as well as surgical masks outside of hospitals.
If people are seen going against this law, Austrian police are permitted to use official force and make people show their faces. They are also allowed to impose fines that are up to $140. The BBC notes that Muslim groups condemned the law.
They noted that just a tiny minority of Austrian Muslims wear full-face veils. Again, the law bans Muslim veils such as the burqa or niqab.
There are also restrictions placed on the use of medical face masks as well as clown makeup. It’s been reported that only about 150 women wear the full burka in Austria.
However, the BBC notes that there are tourist officials that have expressed their fears that such measures will also lower the number of visitors from the Gulf.
Austria isn’t the first to introduce this ban. In 2011, both France and Belgium introduced a burka ban. Something similar is currently happening through the Dutch parliament as well.
People are pretty divided on this ban. Carla Amina Bhagajati, of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria, believes that such a ban is now criminalizing people and restricting them to their homes.
A good handful of people are in strong support of the law as it reflects a growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the predominantly Catholic country, according to BBC.
Emma Schwaiger, an Austrian citizen, told the BBC “It’s not right that those living here don’t show their faces.” She fully supported the ban in a straw poll on the streets of Vienna.
According to The Telegraph, parties campaigning on an anti-immigration message are on course to win elections that could see them form a coalition government. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the full-face veil should be prohibited in German “wherever it is legally possible.”