Austria Face Cover Ban Comes Into Effect

Cheryl Sanders
October 3, 2017

As well as Islamic garments, the law also bans ski masks, balaclavas and clown masks.

The government says the law, which says faces must be visible from the hairline to the chin, is about protecting Austrian values.

Despite the predicted rise of the far-right, protests against the law took place in the Austrian capital city of Vienna where over 300 people demonstrated their dislike towards the ban by covering their face with masks, scarves and costumes.

In fact, anyone who defies the law has her face covering removed forcibly, as happened with at least one woman in the town of Zell am See.

Brought in by the outgoing centrist government of Chancellor Christian Kern, the legislation, similar to those in other European Union countries, also applies to visitors even though large numbers of Arab tourists holiday in the country. Violations will be punished with a fine of up to 150 euros ($177).

Some Muslim groups in Austria have criticised the ban.

Carla Amina Baghajati from the Austrian Islamic Religious Community says women wearing burkas have been criminalised.

"This open society is, in a hypocritical way, endangering its own values", she said.

"I am reaching out to all women in Europe and especially to women in Austria who voluntarily wear the burka, I will always be there and pay the fines", Nekkaz was quoted as saying in a Servus TV interview. "It is every woman's right to always dress how she wants", he said.

However, the strong support for the new law could point towards political upheaval in Austria's general election on October 15.

Many people on social media condemned this oppression of religious rights in the country.

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