Three hundred people gathered in Vienna City Centre to protest against a ban on full facial coverings in Austria.
The law that came into effect on Sunday bans burqas and niqabs from being worn in public. The ban also includes clown masks, balaclavas and ski masks.
Similar bans on full face veils have been adopted in France, Belgium and in a limited form in the Netherlands.
One protester said: ‘‘It’s horrible, I think it’s also unconstitutional, for start; it’s racist and it encourages police randomness. I am very concerned about this law because I think this is going into a completely wrong direction.’‘
People appearing in public with their faces covered could face a one hundred and fifty euro fine and will not be allowed to enter the country at border controls. The ban is estimated to affect around 150 women living in Austria but will also apply to Arab tourists visiting the Alpine nation.
Austrian Police Spokesman; Johann Baumschlager said: ‘‘Visitors are informed that they have to remove the burqas or face cover. If they don’t do it at the airport border control, they will not be allowed to enter Austrian territory and will be sent back.’‘
The law was proposed by the leader of the conservative Austrian Peoples Party, Sebastian Kurz. Analysts interpret the move, as an attempt to court far- right voters of the Anti Islam Freedom Party ahead of the upcoming Parliamentary election on October 15th.