A Muslim woman was forced to remove her veil as a new law banning niqabs came into force in Austria.
The woman was pictured wearing a niqab – which covers most of the face except the eyes – in the town of Zell am See on Sunday.
The woman was forced to unveil in Zell am See (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
However, it wasn’t long before she was approached by armed police who ordered her to remove it.
Items covering the face have been banned in public places, with some exceptions – namely ‘cultural events’, or for doctors who need to wear medical masks during procedures.
Anyone violating the law could now be hit with a €150 fine.
Announcing the ban, officials in Vienna claimed that it would encourage ‘acceptance and respect’.
‘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,’ they said.
However, campaigners against burka and niqab bans say that they unfairly target Muslim women, and will have the adverse effect of making Muslims feel less comfortable.
It’s also feared that laws specifically calling out Muslim communities could lead to increased Islamophobia and hate crimes.
There are also other laws coming into force today that many fear will unfairly target immigrants.
Immigrants will now be forced to sign an ‘integration contract’, and will be made to take compulsory courses in the German language and ‘Austrian values’.
Austria isn’t the first European country to enforce veil bans.
France became the first to pass the controversial ban in April 2011 – and has since arrested around 1,500 people under the law.