VIENNA: Austria’s new burqa ban became a cynosure once again and this for a bizarre reason when a man dressed as a massive shark was arrested.
The arrested occurred when the man was standing outside a shop called McShark, dressed up as a shark in order to promote the new tech store in Vienna.
Police officers approached him and demanded he remove his shark head, under the new law that bans full face coverings in public places. When he refused, claiming he was ‘just doing his job’, they arrested him and gave him a fine.
As well as burkas, the law also bans clown disguises, medical masks outside of a hospital context, or scarves that cover the face.
Austrian authorities said the ban was aimed at ‘ensuring the cohesion of society in an open society’. Violations are punishable with a fine of up to €150. ‘Acceptance and respect of Austrian values are basic conditions for successful cohabitation between the majority of Austrian population and people from third countries living in Austria,’ officials said. Although it’s widely referred to as a ‘burqa ban’, the wording of the law was left deliberately religiously neutral.
However, officials’ repeated mention of ‘Austrian values’ and ‘people from other countries living in Austria’ made it clear that the new law was mainly aimed at the country’s Muslim community.