A law that forbids any kind of full-face covering, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa, has come into force in Austria on October 1, 2017. The so-called 'burqa ban' prohibits facial coverings including niqabs and burqas. The Austrian law called “Prohibition for the Covering of the Face” also places restrictions on surgical masks, ski masks and clown make-up worn in public.
The new law states that faces must be visible from hairline to chin in public places and it is mostly perceived to be directed at the extremely modest clothes worn by a minority of Muslim women. Austria’s ban comes after France and Belgium bans in 2011; the Dutch parliament is also debating a similar law and the nationalist Alternative for Germany party is calling for one there, too.
According to the Koran all Muslims – whether male or female – should dress modestly and refrain from revealing “any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary”. The Muslim holy book offers no specific guidance on female clothing. The burka is a reflection of culture rather than an accepted interpretation of Islam and it remains an alien imposition in large areas of the Muslim world. The burka appears to have originated in Persia in the 10th century and it was slowly spread and promoted by the ultra-conservative schools of Islam, such as the Wahhabi and Deobandi traditions.
Some Muslim groups in Austria have criticized and condemned the ban. Carla Amina Bhagajati of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria said the "handful" of fully veiled women 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.
Violations carry a possible fine of nearly $180. Police are authorized to use force if people resist showing their faces. On day one of Austria burqa ban a woman wearing a niqab facial veil, which only leaves the eyes uncovered, was seen being told to remove her veil by two police officers in Zell am See, a city south of Saltzburg.
Covering the face in public has become security threat in most countries, especially after strengthening of Islamic terrorist groups. The government said: "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."
Photo Credits: Study International