Activist, shark-suited man cited over Austria face cover ban

VIENNA (AP) — Austrian police issued citations Monday to two people who contravened a law banning full face coverings. One was an Algerian millionaire activist who says such laws are directed against Muslim women, and the other a man wearing a shark suit.

Activist Rachid Nekkaz was fined 50 euros (nearly $60), after he appeared in front of Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz’s ministry with a large photo of Kurz around his neck, fully masked and in a black suit festooned with 100-euro bills . Kurz heads the center-right People’s Party, is a key supporter of the law and has led his party into first place before the Oct. 15 election on a campaign that exploits broad anti-Muslim sentiments.

Nekkaz has been in the news for paying fines imposed by police in European Union nations with such bans, which are generally directed against full-face veils worn by some Muslim women.

Police issued their second misdemeanor citation after a man — part of a street advertising campaign for the McShark computer chain stores — refused several requests to take off his shark head.

The law, popularly known as the “burqa ban,” prohibits most full face coverings in public, including off-slope ski masks, surgical masks outside hospitals and party masks on the street.

Violations carry a possible fine of 150 euros (nearly $180). Only a handful of citations have been issued since it took effect this month.


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