In Brief

Austrian man in shark costume falls foul of anti-burka law

New law causes confusion among Austrians after series of odd incidents

A man in a shark costume has fallen foul of Austria’s new anti-burka law.

Designed to ban the full-face Islamic veil, “the law says people's faces must be visible from hairline to chin,” reports the BBC.

The man was promoting a business called McShark in the Austrian capital of Vienna when he was cautioned by police and the business was fined.

The company that had employed the man in a shark costume posted a picture of him on Facebook and announced the fine, saying officers had forced the man to take the costume head off. “Life isn't easy,” they wrote.

His costume reportedly came to the attention of police after a member of the public reported him for breaking the law.

The new law extends to other face coverings, including costumes and even people on motorbikes who wear scarves, according to Die Welt.

The laws were written in such a way to be religiously neutral, but that has led to widespread confusion in the German-speaking nation, adds the paper. Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported that in one case a cyclist was stopped by police for covering her face with a scarf.

Eugen Prosquill from advertising company Warda Network, which had hired the man, told Austrian newspaper Heute: “I wasn’t aware that the law reaches that far that it also affects mascots.”

Police have called for the new law to be clarified although it is believed Halloween events will not be affected by the legislation, adds the paper.

Austria's ruling coalition agreed to prohibit full-face veils in public spaces such as courts and schools, in January.

The measures were “seen as an attempt to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party, which almost won the presidency in December 2016,” adds the BBC.

An Algerian billionaire wearing a Halloween mask has led a protest outside the Austrian interior ministry in Vienna, promising to pay the fines of any women who are prosecuted for wearing the niqab or burka.

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