Austria's Islamophobic 'Burqa Ban' Criminalizes Muslim Women

Muslim women who cover their faces are “now criminalized and ... restricted to their homes,” said Carla Amina Bhagajati of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria.

Burqa Ban

Police in Austria forced Muslim women to uncover their faces in public on the first day of the “Burqa ban,” after an anti-burqa law was implemented.

The ban is xenophobic, to say the least, prohibiting women from full facial coverings. Not only does the law make it unlawful for women to wear niqabs and burqas, it also places restrictions on surgical masks, ski masks and clown makeup worn in public spaces. 

In fact, anyone who defies the law may have her face covering removed forcibly, as happened with at least one woman in the town of Zell am See.

This “burqa” obsession was brought into action by the outgoing centrist government of Chancellor Christian Kern.  “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,” said officials in Vienna, in a ruling announcing the ban.

However, how this ban, which has been slapped on the Muslim minority of the country that dares to follow their religious practices and wear modest clothing, bring about successful cohabitation is yet to be seen.

Any woman spotted wearing the “burqa” will be fined with €150 ($177). Police forces are also allowed to use force on women who are not abiding by the law.

“It’s not right that those living here don’t show their faces,” said Emma Schwaiger, who supports the ban.

Women will only be allowed to wear the full face veil under certain conditions — such as "at cultural events."

Many Austrian Muslim groups have criticized the ban. Carla Amina Bhagajati of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria 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.

Austria’s president also stands with the devout women who chose to dress modestly. “It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants,” he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel previously expressed support for a similar law in Germany. “Our law takes precedence over codes of honor, tribal or family rules, and over sharia law,” she said.

The strong support for the new law is also seen as a reaction to the rise of the far right in the country. Anti-migrant campaigning parties are predicted to win and form a coalition government in the near future. 

Many people on social media condemned this oppression of religious rights in the country. 











Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Stephane Mahe

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