Man dresses up as a shark, gets arrested under Austria's burqa ban

Lester Mason
October 10, 2017

The man was eventually forced to take off his mask.

Violators of the law can be fined 150 pounds, the equivalent of about $176. "Life is not easy!"

Photos posted by the store showed the shark - in happier times. RT News quotes the company's managing director, Eugen Prosquill, as saying he didn't think mascots would be affected by the new burqa ban, saying it would be a shame if businesses could no longer use this type of mascot in their promotions.

"Generally, it is allowed to wear disguises or covering for artistic, cultural or traditional events, as well as for professional practice", the statement said.

Under the guise of an "integration package" meant to encourage assimilation into Austrian culture, the ban went into effect October 1 due to fears associated with burqas and full-face veils worn by Muslims, but the law can be applied to anyone who appears to be masking their appearance.

Given that the name of the store was McShark, the man was obviously dressed in a shark costume, trying to attract customers walking on the street.

The local public relations agency responsible for the gimmick says they will cover the fine, the Telegraph reports, but it's likely the punishment will be dropped since the law isn't meant to apply to professionals. The reasoning behind the ban is reportedly an attempt to stop the rise of the Freedom Party, a far-right group, which very almost won in the December 2016 elections.

The ban on the full-face veil, which remains a rare sight in Austria, was seen as the latest effort by the two governing centrist parties to halt a rise in support for the anti-immigration Freedom Party.

An Algerian billionaire wearing a Halloween mask has led a protest outside the Austrian interior ministry in Vienna, promising to pay the fines of any women who are prosecuted for wearing the niqab or burka.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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