Monday, October 30, 2017

Face-mask bans of the future!

Earlier this month, Austria brought in a law that bans face-covering and now the head of the Austrian police union, Hermann Greylinger, wants it scrapped.
"It is unenforceable," says Greylinger.
Austria's law, like the one in Quebec, broadens the prohibitions on face-covering to avoid the appearance of discrimination, so police are being called to investigate anyone wearing a costume. Last week in a Lego store, they tried to arrest a Lego Ninja.


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Polizei stürmt Lego-Store in Wien. Grund: Verstoß gegen das Vermummungsverbot.

 The unanswered question:  Why is a bunny wearing glasses the official mascot of the Austrian parliament?
"The  [Austrian prohibition on face coverings] was not written as a burka ban for constitutional reasons and now this crap is happening," [Hermann Greylinger, [head of the Austrian police union] says.
 [He's complaining about police being required to enforce the ban.
Aamna Mohdin is a reporter with the digital news outlet Quartz. She covers European issues related to diversity, immigration, economics and justice. She's been watching the confusion in Austria since the ban was implemented.

"I think at the heart of the problem is, you can't make a law that specifically targets Muslims and get away with it," she tells me on Day 6.
"That's discriminatory. So the governments in Europe and in Quebec, they have to create laws that will somehow hold up in court.When you do that, you're kind of confronted with the awkward fact that people wear face-coverings for all sorts of reasons."

Those reasons include promoting a new line of Lego.
"The Austrian police ended up raiding the Lego store in Vienna after receiving a complaint that a Ninja Lego was violating the face-covering ban. And it kind of led to this really extremely heated argument," Mohdin says.

"No fines were issued to the woman because she was willing to take off the head covering. And the police agreed that the face-covering that she was wearing fits the exemption that was within her professional occupation."

Police were also called to respond to a human sized bunny that is official mascot of the Austrian parliament, a man dressed as a shark, and a university student who covered her face because she was cold.

Police suspect they're being called by people who want to draw attention to the absurdity of the law.
Lesko, Austrian Parliament MascotLesko, the mascot of Austria's parliament in 2014. (Parlamentsdirektion / Bildagentur Zolles KG / Martin Steiger)
               Policy based on misperception
Mohdin estimates there are 150 women in Austria who wear a veil. In Quebec, the number may be even lower. She says when polled, people tend to overstate the percentage of Muslims living in their country.

Mohdin believes the popularity of laws banning face-covering is tied to a misperception of the overall numbers of Muslims in those jurisdictions.

"In France, they overestimate their Muslim population by like 17 times or so, and I think that's because we kind of feed into this narrative that there's this Islamic invasion, especially in Europe — this fear that people who don't fit our culture, norms and values are coming over here, and they're overtaking everything that we hold dear."

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