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Austria dashes $166 fine on Niqab

“The ban is part of a larger package which also forbids the distribution of the Quran”

Vienna: Parliament of Austria have approved a new bill which bans garments that fully cover the face of women which comes as the latest religiously discriminated restriction for the country’s Muslim population.

Both ruling parties adopted a provision that people wearing full-face veils in public will be subject to 150-euro ($166) fines starting in October.

Austria’s coalition government first announced it in January as part of wider proposals aimed at countering the rise of the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party.

“The ban was just the latest move imposing restrictions on Muslims,” said Farid Hafez, political scientist at the University of Salzburg and editor of The European Islamophobia Report.

Austria, home to some 600,000 Muslims, passed a bill requiring imams to be able to speak German in 2015.

“This is another example of the far right becoming the hegemonic force in the public discourse,” he told Al Jazeera.

The ban is part of a larger package which also forbids the distribution of the Quran and requires all migrants in Austria to participate in an “integration” year during which they take classes to learn German and ethics considered customary in Austria.

The nationwide ban on full-face veils comes on the heels of a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in March, which stated that employers are entitled to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols, a decision Muslims said was a direct attack on women wearing hijabs at work.

“The court could and should have seized the opportunity to put a halt to the multiple discriminations faced by Muslim women and protect their fundamental rights, but they chose not to,” Kim Lecoyer, president of Belgium-based Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera in reaction to the ECJ ruling.