A few days ago, Austria followed in the footsteps of France, Belgium and many other European countries by enforcing a burqa ban, prohibiting Muslim women from wearing the outer garment used to cover themselves.
The difference with Austria? The law is expected to affect just 150 women.
According to QZ, that’s 0.03 percent of the overall Muslim population in Austria and only 0.002 percent of the entire population of the country.
The law was implemented on October 1, subjecting Muslim women to a $177 fine for violations.
The new legislation doesn’t just ban the face veil worn by Muslim women, but all face coverings, with a few exceptions.
— Jeremy Cliffe (@JeremyCliffe) September 21, 2017
Niqabs and burqas are banned completely whilst surgical masks, ski masks and clown makeup can be worn under certain circumstances.
According to The Telegraph, a woman wearing a niqab was told to remove her veil by two police officers in Zell am See, a city south of Salzburg, this week.
The measures, similar to those in other European Union countries, will also apply to visitors, even though a large number of Arab tourists holiday in the Alpine country.
Austria’s president opposed the decision
Austria’s decision to ban the burqa is part of a wider plan to “integrate migrants”, which requires them to sign up for classes to learn the German language.
The President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, opposed the law, saying “it is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants.”
Bellen, a left-wing former Green Party leader, has fought against the rise of Islamophobia in Europe several times before.
In April, he called on all women to wear the hijab in solidarity with Muslims.
The burqa ban came into effect just before the general election on October 15, which could see the far-right Freedom Party take lead.