A French businessman is willing to pay all fines imposed on Muslim women wearing burqas in Austria after the country bans the full-face veil Oct. 1.
Rachid Nekkaz has already covered 300,000 euros ($360,000) worth of fines in several countries where the niqabs and burqas are outlawed. Nekkaz — who has roots in Algeria and made his fortune as a property dealer — told Muslim women not to worry about the 150 euro fines ($180) once the ban takes effect next month.
“I am reaching out to all women in Europe and especially to women in Austria who voluntarily wear the burqa, I will always be there and pay the fines,” Nekkaz said in a television interview Thursday, according to Reuters, adding that he believes it falls under freedom of religion to wear burqas in public.
Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz threatened to fine Nekkaz if he follows through with his pledge.
“Whoever wears niqab or burka in Austria has to deal with the consequence,” Kurz said, according to Oberösterreichische Nachrichten.
Along with the burka ban, migrants will be required to enroll in a one-year integration course where they will study the German language and learn about ethics and values in Austria as part of the new integration measures.
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