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Austria Unveils Ban on Burqas and Other Face Coverings

by Associated Press /
A protester wears a niqab during a demonstration against a full-face veil ban in Vienna, Austria on Oct. 1, 2017. The new law bans full-face veils in public places, as well as burkas, medical face masks or clown makeup, and says faces must be visible from the hairline to the chin.Christian Bruna / EPA

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VIENNA — A law that forbids any kind of full-face covering, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa, has come into force in Austria.

Starting Sunday, wearing a ski mask off the slopes, a surgical mask outside hospitals and party masks in public is prohibited.

The law, popularly known as the "Burqa Ban," is mostly seen as an act directed at the dress worn by some ultra-conservative Muslim women.

A protester wears a niqab during a demonstration against a full-face veil ban in Vienna, Austria on Oct. 1, 2017. The new law bans full-face veils in public places, as well as burkas, medical face masks or clown makeup, and says faces must be visible from the hairline to the chin.Christian Bruna / EPA

Violations carry a possible fine of nearly $180. Police are authorized to use force if people resist showing their faces.

Only a small number of Muslim women in Austria wear full-face veils, but they have become a target for right-wing groups and political parties.

France and Belgium have similar laws. The nationalist Alternative for Germany party is calling for one there, too.

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