Austrian ‘burka ban’ comes into effect
New legislation to ‘protect Austrian values’ comes less than a month before general election
The Austrian government’s ban on full-face Muslim veils has come into effect, less than a month before a general election which is expected to deliver big gains for far-right parties.
According to the government, legislation requiring faces to be visible from the hairline to the chin in public places is aimed at protecting Austrian values.
However, the law has been condemned by Muslim groups as disproportionate, given that just a tiny minority of Austrian Muslims wear a full veil.
The BBC estimates as few as 150 women in the entire country wear a full burka, and reports that Austrian tourism officials fear the ban will deter visitors from the Gulf.
While the law targets Muslim veils it also places restrictions on the use of medical face masks and clown make-up.
Both France and Belgium have introduced a burka ban in recent years, and a similar law is passing through the Dutch parliament. Germany does not have formal legislation banning full-face veils, but last year Chancellor Angela Merkel said they should be prohibited “wherever it is legally possible”.
Despite calls from UKIP to introduce such a ban, there are no restrictions on the burka and niqab in the UK.