Austria bans the niqab and burqa in public places

The Austrian government has issued a new law banning Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in public places.

The new “Burqa Ban” states that faces must be visible from hairline to chin in public places and also includes off-slope ski masks and surgical masks outside of hospitals.

Muslim women wearing the niqab and burqa in public places will be fined 150 Euros (£132) on the spot.

Austria claims that the new legislation aims to protect its country’s “values”.

According to the new law, “those who are not prepared to accept Enlightenment values will have to leave our country and society,” a government source told the BBC.

The Austrian government stated: “Acceptance and respect of Austrian values are basic conditions for successful cohabitation between the majority Austrian population and people from third countries living in Austria”.

Austria approved the ban on the full-face veil in May, sparking protests at that time when thousands of people took to the streets of Vienna to express their rejection of the new ban on the niqab and the burqa in public spaces.

Protesters have reportedly accused the government of perpetuating Islamophobia and sexism.

Muslim groups have condemned the new law, saying just a minority of Austrian Muslim women wear the full-face veil.

Carla Amina Bhagajati of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria said the “handful” of fully veiled women she knows of in Vienna “are now criminalised” and “restricted to their homes”.

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

Tourism officials in the country have also expressed fears that the measures will also deter visitors from the Gulf.

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 Angela Merkel also called for banning of the full-face veil.

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