Austria bans full-face veils

A law in Austria has banned full-face veils. Muslim women cannot wear a full-face veil in public. The law says faces must be visible from the hairline to the chin. The government said the law is to protect Austrian values. Muslim groups said the law is unfair because it is against human rights and religious freedom. Only a small minority of Austrian Muslims wears full-face veils. The groups say the number is about 150. Officials say the law will damage Austria's economy. Many Muslim tourists might decide not to visit Austria.

Austria is the third European country to ban the veil. France and Belgium introduced bans in 2011. Other European countries could follow. Holland is working on passing a ban. Germany's Angela Merkel said the full-face veil should be banned, "wherever it is legally possible". The Islamic Religious Community in Austria talked about the unfairness of the new law. It said the "handful" of veiled women in Austria are now "criminals" and have to stay in their home. A supporter of the ban said: "It's not right that those living here don't show their faces."