A new law has passed in Austria which bans Muslim women from wearing full face veils in public, forces migrants to assimilate into the culture, and requires refugees to do unpaid public service.
According to the Daily Mail, any woman caught wearing burkas or niqabs in public places will be fined £130 ($160 U.S.) starting in October. The law also requires migrants who intend on staying in Austria to go through a 12-month course on how to integrate into the culture, learn the German language, and follow the country’s ethics and values.
Asylum seekers will now be required to do public service. Anyone not willing to do the unpaid jobs or take the course will have their benefits cut.
In February, some 3,000 women in Vienna protested the bill which was backed by the Social Democratic Party and the Austrian People’s Party. The right-wing Freedom Party of Austria criticized the law for not going far enough.
Austria’s leftist President Alexander Van Der Bellen feels all women should cover their face in an effort to combat Islamophobia:
“It is the right of a woman... to dress herself however she wants. That is my opinion about it. Besides that, not only Muslim women. Every woman can wear a headscarf. And if it goes on - and I am already on the next question - with actual rampant Islamophobia, the day will come that we must ask all women to wear a headscarf.”
It is noted by the Mail that Van Der Bellen’s “government banned the full-face veil in public spaces in January, as part of an attempt to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.”