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‘Burqa Ban’ takes effect in Austria

A law banning Muslim women from wearing full-face veils such as burqas and niqabs in public, known popularly as the “Burqa Ban,” has taken force in Austria.

The law, officially dubbed “Prohibition for the Covering of the Face,” also bans off-slope ski masks, surgical masks outside hospitals, and party masks in public.

Violators face a fine of 150 euros (nearly $180) and police are authorized to use force with people who resist showing their faces.

Carla Amina Bhagajati, of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria, said the “handful” of women who wear full-face veils and who she knows of in Vienna “now are criminalized and … restricted to their homes.”

“This open society is, in a hypocritical way, endangering its own values,” she added.

Similar restrictions have also been adopted in France and Belgium since 2011 while the Netherlands introduced a partial ban in 2015. Last year, Germany’s Chancellor Merkel also called for banning the full-face veil.

Last week, the anti-Islam and anti refugee Alternative for Germany party won seats in Germany’s national parliament for the first time. While campaigning, it had voiced opposition to burqas in its campaign.

The Austrian law was brought in by the outgoing centrist government of Chancellor Christian Kern.

Meanwhile, elections on October 15 are expected to see parties that campaign on an anti-refugee platform — the Freedom Party and the People’s Party — winning and potentially forming a coalition government.

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