Austria’s burqa ban took effect Sunday as the country aims to force integration and promote “acceptance and respect of Austrian values.”
The Austrian parliament passed a number of “integration laws” in May. Wearing a full-face veil in public may result in a 150 euro fine ($167). Migrants will also 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. Upon immigrating to the country, migrants will be forced to sign an “integration contract.”
“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,” the government said after passing the law.
A women wearing a niqab was forced to remove her veil in the city of Zell am See just hours after the law came into effect Sunday.
The anti-immigration Freedom Party is expected to finish second or third in the general election Oct. 14. The party will likely be part of a center-right government led by Sebastian Kurz, the current foreign minister. Kurz has been able to capitalize on the migrant crisis by promoting the burqa ban.
“The immigration seen in recent years is changing our country not in a positive but in a negative way,” Kurz said during a recent television interview, according to The Local.
French businessman Rachid Nekkaz pledged to cover all fines imposed on Muslim women in Austria earlier this month. Nekkaz has already covered 300,000 euros ($360,000) worth of fines in several countries where the niqabs and burqas are outlawed.
“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 Sept. 22, according to Reuters, adding that he believes it falls under freedom of religion to wear burqas in public.
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