Effective in October, women in Austria who go out in public wearing garments such as the burqa and niqab – full-face veils that many Muslim women are forced to wear to comply with Islamic standards of female modesty – will be punished with monetary fines.
The new rules comes as part of a package of laws intended to foster a spirit of integration among Austrian immigrants that was agreed upon by a coalition government that includes the conservative Austrian People’s Party and the center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria.
Also bundled in the legislation is a prohibition against passing out the Quran in public after it was determined that a radical Islamist group was using the practice to lure in prospective members, a provision mandating one-year courses in the German language and in Western values for all migrants, and a requirement for migrants to spend time doing unpaid charitable work.
The socialist faction within Austrian politics initially criticized the laws as Islamophobic but eventually came around, likely due to the increased frequency of Islamist terrorist attacks across Europe and the efforts of Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the conservative party.
Any person caught wearing a burqa or niqab as of October will be slapped with a fine of around 150 euros ($167).
Austria is set to hold early elections in mid-October after the surprise resignation of Reinhold Mitterlehner, who previously served as vice chancellor and leader of the Austrian People’s Party. The anti-mass migration Freedom Party is expected to gain numerous seats thanks to leader Heinz-Christian Strache’s staunch anti-Islamist stance.
Strache made waves by describing Islamism earlier this year as a philosophy that is “antagonistic to women, antiliberal and corresponds to a fascist worldview.”