On Sunday (October 1), an Austrian law which prevents women from wearing burqas went into effect. According to the new rule, women cannot wear any face covering in public, including skin masks or down makeup. However, the ban is put in place with an eye towards disallowing women to wear burqas.

Now women may have to pay $177 if they violate the ban. Two police officers in a small town were recently seen telling women to remove their veils. The country’s centrist government has said that the law was implemented for the sake of acceptance and respect of Austrian values.

Muslim groups in the country have very obviously criticised the ban.

Carla Amina Bhagajati, a representative of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria, told The Telegraph that the law “criminalized” a “handful” of women, forcing them to stay indoors. Of course, activists have said that the ban is Islamophobic

Full veils are anyway rare in Austria, but the move shows the increasing intolerance of European countries towards the burqa. Of nine million Austrians, only 100-150 women wear the face veil. There are 700,000 Muslims in the country.

They have called the law “Prohibition on the Covering of the Face”.

Austria has seen an influx of refugees and they have banned the distribution of the Quran. They require all refugees to participate in an “integration” programme to learn the German language and “Austrian ethics”.

France introduced the burqa ban in 2011, as did Belgium. Bulgaria introduced a ban in 2016. The German Parliament has approved a partial ban on face coverings, which includes the burqa and the niqab.

But can a country really ban what women wear? Instead of freeing these women, they are criminalising them. What if they choose to wear the burqa?

According to several reports and analysis, the burqa ban in France has brought negative results. Agnes de Feo, a sociologist and filmmaker, who has been studying the impact of the ban, told The Local, “We created a monster.”

She said, “Those who have left to go and fight in Syria say that this law is one of the things that encouraged them. They saw it as a law against Islam. It had the effect of sending a message that Islam was not welcome in France.”

Also Read: Ban Burqa Wherever Legally Possible: Merkel

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