Austria recently introduced a controversial anti-burqa law forcing Muslim women to uncover their faces and prohibiting them from wearing niqab. The newly implemented legislation also placed restrictions on surgical masks, ski masks and clown makeup worn in public spaces.
In fact, police are also permitted to use force on those who do not obey the law.
However, it turns out the seemingly xenophobic law goes far beyond the items listed above.
Police in Vienna recently approached a poor worker, whose name remains undisclosed, posing as a mascot in front of an electronic retail store, promoting a new Apple device. Given that the name of the store was McShark, the man was dressed in a shark costume, trying to attract customers walking on the street.
The officers reportedly asked him to take off his shark mask or face fines. The man apparently refused, saying, “I’m just doing my job,” leading the cops to slap him with a fine that can run up to $176.
“Today we were at the McShark store opening and our shark mascot received a fine from the Vienna police because of the new ban on face-coverings. Life is not easy,” advertising agency Warda Network, which was present at the McShark event, wrote on its Facebook page.
Although the authorities claim the burqa ban is not a religious restriction and is aimed at “ensuring the cohesion of society in an open society,” the implantation of the law has created massive confusion. The officials believe someone reported the McShark mascot to the law enforcement agencies to highlight the new law.
“I wasn’t aware that the law reaches that far that it also affects mascots,” Eugen Prosquill, who hired the man in shark costume, told Heute.com.
While Halloween festivities will not be affected by this ban, women in Austria will only be allowed to wear the face veil under certain conditions — such as "at cultural events."
Many Austrian Muslim groups have criticized the ban, including Carla Amina Bhagajati of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria, who said the “handful” of fully veiled women she knows of in Vienna “now are criminalized and... restricted to their homes.”
“This open society is, in a hypocritical way, endangering its own values,” she said.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Phil Noble