Muslim girl in Vienna harassed for wearing burqa


VIENNA: Two women harassed a young Muslim girl for wearing a burqa at a Viennese metro station, after a law banning the donning of burqas had become effective on October 1, as reported by Austrian media.

Police arrived at the scene when the confrontation became physical. However, the burqa-clad woman did not resist the police and uncovered her face for identification, according to police spokesman Daniel Fürst. The police kept a record of the woman, while her refusal to comply with the law resulted in a public argument.

The newly instated law banning burqas was drafted by Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Minister Sebastian Kurz and approved by parliament in May. According to the new law, women wearing burqas can be taken to police stations for identification. Moreover, such women as refused to uncover their faces could be fined up to 150 euros ($168).

The ban on burqas and other clothes concealing the face follows the precedent set by other European Union countries, starting with France in 2011.

Full and partial face veils such as burqas and niqabs divide opinion across Europe. Advocates of religious freedom argue for its legitimacy while secularists and those who view it as a symbol of oppression demand its prohibition. The niqab covers everything but the eyes, while the burqa also covers the eyes with a transparent veil.