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An Austrian law that forbids any kind of full-face covering, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa, came into force on Sunday, reports The Associated Press.

The law, known as the "Burqa Ban," is mostly seen as a directed at the dress worn by some ultra-conservative Muslim women. It also prohibits wearing a ski mask off the slopes, a surgical mask outside hospitals and party masks in public.

Violations carry a possible fine of 150 euros (nearly $180). Police are authorized to use force if people resist showing their faces.

The legislation was first announced by Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern in February, as part of a package of policies aimed at countering the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.

Austria, which is mainly Catholic, is home to around 600,000 Muslims in a total population of about 8.7 million.

Only a small number of Muslim women in Austria wear full-face veils.

The outlawing of the burqa or other clothing concealing the face in Austria followed similar moves in other countries in Europe.

France was the first country to do so, having introduced a ban on women wearing the burqa in 2010.

A parliamentary committee in Belgium later voted to ban the burqa as well. Italy has drafted a similar law.

Last November, the lower house of the Dutch Parliament voted to enforce a ban on burqas and niqabs.

Most recently, German lawmakers approved a partial ban on the burqa in late April.