Australia bans distribution of Quran, use of burka

Women who wear garments that fully cover their faces in Austria will have to pay fine up to 50 Euro ($A225) from October this year.

Austria bans distribution of Quran, use of full-face veil
An ancient handwritten copy of the holy Quran Reuters

The Austrian government passed legislation on Tuesday outlawing the distribution of Koran (Quran) and banning the use of full-face veils or burqas that cover the entire face of women. The provision was backed by both ruling parties in the country.

Starting in October this year, women wearing garments that fully cover the face will have to face fines of 150 Euro ($A225). The rules were included in the legislative package, introduced for refugees and asylum seekers in the country to make them suitable for residing in Austria.

Austria's coalition government was the first to ban full-face veil in January as part of wider proposals aimed at countering the rise of the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party.

The legislation also requires all migrants to participate in an integration year, during which they will be taught German and Austrian ethos. The measure taken by the legislators has been denounced by both political extremes. However, it is not yet clear how the move will affect the migrants in the country.

Reportedly, the asylum seekers will also be expected to perform unpaid public work. Any person who refuses to abide by the legislation will lose out on benefits given by the government. According to reports, the government proposal is apparently designed to make migrants more suited for the Austrian labour market.

The Islamic Religious Community says that Islam is the second most widely professed religion in Austria. At least 7 per cent of the population in the country, which constitutes to around 600,000 people practices Islam.

There are many European countries, which have a similar ban in place for full-face veils, including France and Belgium. In 2015, the Netherlands had also introduced a partial ban on full-face veils in the country. Last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had endorsed her party's call to ban the full-face veil "wherever it is legally possible."