Qatar issues travel advisory for Austria ahead of new niqab ban
Qataris heading to Austria this fall should take note of an upcoming ban on full-faced veils, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.
In a travel advisory reported by QNA, the ministry said citizens who wish to travel to the country once the ban takes effect in October “must abide by it.”
Earlier this year, Austria’s government approved legislation to fine people who wear clothes that obstruct their facial features in public places.
Those who do so could be slapped with a €150 (QR614) penalty.
The ban includes burqas and niqabs worn by women at universities, courts or while riding public transport, according to local media.
Other European countries including France, Belgium and the Netherlands have also banned the burqa and niqab in public.
And Germany and Norway have been considering following suit.
Most Muslim scholars agree that women are not Islamically required to cover their faces in public.
However, some women, including in Qatar, wear niqabs for cultural reasons or because they feel more comfortable this way.
Austria’s ban has been denounced by Muslims in the country, who say it plays into Islamophobia. Thousands even rallied against the legislation in Vienna in February.
“Every woman must be able to move freely in public without harassment and discrimination – no matter what she does or does not wear,” one Muslim youth group said on its Facebook page.
According to the Guardian, the move is more a political one than anything else, as government leaders struggle to win the public’s approval.
“Only between 100 and 150 women are estimated to wear the full-face veil in Austria,” the newspaper reported earlier this year.
It added that the ban would apply in tourist destinations such as the Zell am See ski resort as well as the more urban city of Vienna.
Would the ban affect your decision to visit Vienna? Thoughts?