Story By: Kathryn Quinn, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Some Muslim tourists are ditching a resort once hugely popular with Arab holidaymakers after local cops handed out a record number of fines to women wearing the full-face veil.
The pretty holiday resort of Zell am See in the western province of Salzburg, Austria is known for being hugely popular with wealthy tourists from the Middle East who arrive in huge numbers for ski season.
So far this year (2019), 365 fines have been handed out to Muslim women who choose to wear the full-face veil, which has been controversially banned in the conservative country since 2017.
Women deemed to be ignoring the ban are handed a 50-EUR (45-GBP) on-the-spot fine.
And now some tourists are ditching the idyllic resort and taking their business elsewhere.
A tourist named Mujib told local media in summer on his visit to Zell am See: “Some members of my family no longer come here and choose to stay in Germany. For many Muslims, the ban is a problem.”
Local police chief Erich Herzog said: “Since January we have handed out 365 fines up until now. At first we hand out warnings. Most people take notice, only once did a women break down in tears.
“Fines are only handed out when the warning is then ignored and they cover themselves again as soon as they go around the corner,” he added.
Zell am See police spokesperson Verena Rainer said: “We are only controlling as part of our normal everyday controls. The women who have their faces covered have to remove the face coverings and the fine has to be paid on the spot. Nobody has refused to take off their face covering so far this year.”
The picturesque town of Zell am See is said to be particularly popular with Arab visitors.
A few years ago tourism chiefs in Salzburg sparked outrage after creating a controversial guide for guests in a bid to stop them trying to haggle over prices, cooking in their rooms, and dumping litter.
The eight-page etiquette guide called “Where Cultures Meet” is reportedly only handed out to guests from Arab regions.
Among the most controversial parts of the booklet’s creation was a debate about whether or not to mention clothing and the burqa at all. The worry was that it could be seen as an attack on religious freedoms.
In the end it was included together with the message that Austrian women can choose to dress how they want and that black is a sign of mourning.
Located in the Kitzbuhel Alps, the town is the number one of the country’s lakeside destinations on the edge of the 68-metre (223-foot) deep Lake Zell.
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