Austria enforced a law banning full-face Muslim veils such as the burqa or niqab in public spaces on Sunday. The law also restricts the use of medical face masks, clown makeup and party masks in public.

The Austrian government has said the law, which mandates that faces be visible from the hairline to the chin, is about protecting Austrian values, the BBC reported.

Muslim groups, however, have condemned the law. The groups said only minority of Austrian Muslims wear the full-face veils – an estimated 150 women wear the full burqa in Austria.

Violations carry a fine of 150 euros (nearly Rs 11,550), and police are authorised to use force if people resist showing their faces, AP reported.

Burqa ban in Europe

The burqa has become a political issue in several major European countries. In 2011, France became the first European country to ban the burqa, followed by Belgium the same year.

The Netherlands approved a partial burqa ban in certain public spaces such as hospitals and schools in 2016. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the full-face veil should be prohibited in Germany “wherever it is legally possible”.