Austria: French millionaire to ‘pay burqa ban’ fines for Muslim women

Vienna: A French-Algerian businessman has come forward offering to pay all the fines imposed on Muslim women for covering their face. This comes two weeks before the ban enters force.

“I am reaching out to all women in Europe and especially to women in Austria who voluntarily wear the burqa, I will always be there and pay the fines,” Rachid Nekkaz, a French property dealer and a millionaire with Algerian roots, who says he is not personally a “face veil advocate,” told the Austrian Servus TV in an interview seen by Reuters.

“If one accepts religious freedom, one must also accept the manifestations of religion,” he added. He seeks to protect the people’s right to openly demonstrate their religious beliefs, the Austrian APA news agency reported.

Nekkaz already pays fines for Muslim women wearing face veils in public places in countries as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. He also established a special organization called “Touche pas à ma constitution” (Do not touch my constitution) that settles these bills.

Also Read: Austria dashes $166 fine on Niqab

He has already spent around € 300,000 ($360,000) as fines in various countries, according to Nekkaz’ claims.

His proposal, however, was challenged by Austrian authorities. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz threatened the businessman with charges over “incitement to commit an offense.”

“We would certainly not let it happen,” Kurz said, adding that “those who would wear the niqab or burqa in Austria should expect to face the consequences,” RT reports.

Austria approved the ban on full-face veils in May, as part of a large “integration law” which the Foreign Ministry says is aimed at encouraging people to assimilate into Austrian culture. The ban to come into force on October 1.

The “Anti-Face-Veiling Act” or “burqa ban,” include the use of burqa/niqab, balaclavas, covering faces with scarves or medical masks, without sufficient reasons could be found in violation of the new law.