Austrian teacher assaulted by burqa-clad woman after ban comes into effect
A ban on full-face coverings, which includes Muslim burqas, entered into force in Austria at the beginning of this month as anti-immigration parties look poised to win national elections. But the ban has led to an ugly incident, not even a full week after the law came into effect.
Published: October 7, 2017, 7:08 pm
In Vienna-Mariahilf, a fully-veiled Muslim assaulted a teacher who had dared to mention the illegality of being veiled, and ten police officers had to intervene to protect the Austrian.
The new law states that faces must be visible from hairline to chin in public places. It includes off-slope ski masks and surgical masks worn outside of hospitals. The aim is stated as follows:
§ 1. The aim of this federal law is the encouragement of integration by the strengthening of participation in society, and by securing the peaceful living together in Austria.
Integration is a process that involves the entire society, and its success depends on the participation of everyone living in Austria, and it depends on personal interaction.
Ban of Veiling
§ 2. (1) Whoever, in public spaces or in public buildings, veils or covers his facial features with clothes or other items, in a way that they are not recognizable anymore, commits an administrative offense, and will be punished with a fee of up to €150. The administrative offense may be penalized by a traffic ticket according to § 50 VStG up to €150. Public spaces or public buildings are places that are always or at certain times accessible by a non-restricted group of people, including the non-stationary facilities of public bus, rail, flight, and nautical transport.
(2) It is not an offense against the prohibition of veiling according to paragraph 1 when the veiling or covering of the face is necessary by federal or national law, when it is part of artistic, cultural or traditional events or sports exercise, or when it is for reasons of health or profession.
Austrian police may use force to make people show their faces and can impose fines of €150.
In Mariahilfer Street, on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after 3pm a teacher [ the name of the teacher is known to the editors] noticed a burka-wearer at the subway station Zieglergasse.
She approached the veiled Muslim woman and explained to her that veiling had been prohibited as of October 1. “I don’t care, I love Islam,” answered the fully black-clad woman.
Within moments, dozens of young men had encircled the Austrian, clearly all Muslim. “They had acted in solidarity with the burka-wearer, insulting me by calling me a racist,” says the teacher.
On the stairs to the underground station Zieglergasse, the burka-wearer assaulted the teacher, pushed her to the ground with both hands, and screamed that she wasn’t obliged to follow laws.
The gang of young men taunted the Viennese woman. Police officers quickly intervened and protected the resident from the angry crowd.
The teacher said: “They [the police] took down my personal data, and took the burka-wearer to the police office, to identify her.” The officers advised the teacher to be cautious: “Avoid such scenes in public, you might land in hospital with a knife in your stomach.”
The law is expected to affect just 150 women, 0.03 percent of the Austrian Muslim population and 0.002 percent of the entire population.
The ban was part of a larger set of new measures proposed as a way to integrate migrants, and other requirements also include classes to learn the German language for recent immigrants, as well as instruction on Austrian norms and values.
The government’s decision to ban the burqa sparked protests by leftists and Muslims across the country. Austria current president, Alexander Van der Bellen, had opposed the law. “It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants,” acccording to Van der Bellen.
In 2016, Austria narrowly avoided electing conservative Norbert Hofer in what turned out to be contested presidential elections.
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