Austrian police forcibly remove burqa from woman

A woman has been photographed having her veil forcibly removed, as a burqa ban comes into force in Austria.

The Daily Mail reported the woman had defied the rule and was told to remove the garment.

Other measures enforced alongside the ban include immigrants signing an 'integration contract', and compulsory courses in German language and values.

Austrian police forcibly remove burqa from woman
Photo credit: Getty

The ban has strong support in the conservative country and the law applies to all face coverings not being used for their intended purpose, which includes ski, surgical and clown masks.

Only under certain conditions, such as at 'cultural events', will people be able to wear the burka in public and the restriction also applies to visitors to a country that has many Arab tourists holidaying.

Scarves covering faces have also been banned.

Austrian police forcibly remove burqa from woman
Photo credit: Getty

The ban is being enforced by police, who will issue a NZ$245 fine for those flouting what has been cited as a violation of a law, aimed at "ensuring the cohesion of society in an open society".

The legislation was brought in by the outgoing centrist government of Chancellor Christian Kern.

In a ruling, officials in Vienna said, "acceptance and respect of Austrian values are basic conditions for successful cohabitation between the majority Austrian population".

Upcoming elections this month have some predicting the anti-immigration Freedom Party will come second or third, and may form a coalition with the centre-right party, led by 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz.

Mr Kurz sits to the far right on issues like immigration and last week, he told a German TV network that the immigration the country had experienced in recent years was "changing our country, not in a positive, but a negative way".

Across the European Union, countries differ in their legislation around full-face covering, with France the first to ban the full-veil in public spaces in 2011. The law has resulted in about 1500 arrests over the past five years.

Belgium and Bulgaria have both banned the burqa in public, with fines issued.

In the Netherlands, legislation banning the wearing of burqa on public transport, as well as in education, healthcare and government buildings, is yet to be approved by the Senate, but has passed the lower house.

Germany has proposed a partial burqa ban in "places where it is necessary for our society's coexistence", including government offices, schools and universities, court and demonstrations.

Italy is currently in debate over a 1975 law making it illegal to cover a face in public, but certain parts of Italy have banned the burka.

Last month, Switzerland's lower house approved a draft bill on a nationwide burqa ban, but it is not yet law. 

The Scandinavian countries differ, with Norway seeking regulations banning the full-face veil in school and universities.

Denmark and Sweden allow schools, administrations and companies to decide for themselves, and there is no ban in Finland.

Further south, Greece, Portugal and Spain have not banned the burqa, but Morocco banned the production and sale of burqa for what it said were security reasons.