Austria’s parliament bans full-face veil in public

Austrian members of parliament have approved a new bill that bans garments that fully cover the face of women – the latest restriction for the country’s Muslim population. The provision, adopted on Tuesday night, was backed by both ruling parties and means that people wearing full-face veils in public will be subject to 150-euro ($166) fines starting in October.
The measure was first announced by Austria’s coalition government in January as part of wider proposals aimed at countering the rise of the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party. Farid Hafez, political scientist at the University of Salzburg and editor of The European Islamophobia Report, said the ban was just the latest move imposing restrictions on Muslims – in 2015, Austria, home to some 600,000 Muslims, passed a bill requiring imams to be able to speak German. “This is another example of the far right becoming the hegemonic force in the public discourse,” he told Al Jazeera.
The ban is part of a larger package, which also forbids the distribution of the Quran and requires all migrants in Austria to participate in an “integration” year, during which they would take classes to learn German and ethics considered customary in Austria. That measure is targeted at refugees and asylum seekers viewed as having a good chance at remaining in Austria.

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