Austria’s ban on face coverings has come into force after growing support for anti-immigration, right-wing parties in the country.
A recent law was passed which that made wearing full face coverings illegal and empowers police to stop anyone wearing them, according to reports the BBC.
Austrian Police may now use force to remove them from anyone covering their head between the chin and the forehead, with wearers incurring a fine of €150.
The law also bans the following:
- surgical masks
- ski masks
- clown make-up
- as well as the balaclavas preferred by black block protestors.
Austria has now joined France and Belgium in banning the veil, with a similar law also currently under discussion in the Dutch parliament.
Burkas and niqabs, which is the most common forms of Islamic face coverings, are worn by a tiny minority of female Muslims, with the vast majority preferring the more commonly seen hijab or even no covering at all.
Austria’s Muslims are mainly of Turkish, Bosnian and Albanian descent, countries in which the veil has never been a huge part of the practice of Islam.
Burkas are basically one-piece veils which cover the whole upper body. It has a mesh screen that allows the wearer to see, while niqabs are face veils which are worn alongside the hijab headscarf.
Carla Amina Bhagajati, who’s a representative of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria says that the new law criminalizes Austrian women for following their religion and leaves Muslim women who choose to wear the veil ‘restricted to their homes.’
“This open society is, in a hypocritical way, endangering its own values,” Bhagajati said to the Telegraph.
The move to prohibit the veil comes in the middle of an election campaign in which anti-immigrant parties may end up forming a coalition in government.