Man in Shark Costume Gets Snared in the Net of Austria’s ‘Burqa Ban’

By Holly Kellum

A man in a full-body shark costume in Austria has been bitten by the country’s recently implemented “burqa ban” for covering his face.

The ban, which went into effect Oct. 1, prohibits people from obscuring their face from the hairline to the chin, which many see as a ban on the burqa, a veil that some Muslim women wear.

The man in the shark costume, who was advertising the opening of a McShark electronics store, reportedly refused to remove the head of the costume when the police asked him to, Austrian media Heute reported.

“I’m just doing my job here,” he told the official.

For his refusal, he was fined 150 euros ($177), according to local media.

“I didn’t know that the law goes so far that mascots are affected,” Eugen Prosquill, the managing director of the Warda Network, the advertising agency behind the campaign, told Heute.

Despite not being able to fully use the shark costume, it turned out to be a very successful advertising gimmick for the company, garnering national and international media attention.

Prosquill told Leadersnet.at that it was a Warda employee who brought the face-covering costume to the authorities’ attention.

Under Austria’s veil ban, which only applies in public places, someone can be fined for wearing a scarf over their face in cold weather or a face-covering balaclava.

Several bikers have already been pulled over for covering their faces, according to Newsweek and some street performers have been issued warnings.

Apparently, the shark could have kept his head if he had waited a few weeks.

Face-covering costumes during festivals and holidays, such as Halloween, are exempt from the ban, a spokesman for Austria’s Ministry of the Interior told the Austrian Press Agency.

Police have reportedly called for a clarification of the ban.

When asked if Warda would use face-covering costumes in their campaigns again, Prosquill told Heute: “I don’t know. It would be a pity if there were no mascots left.”

 
 
 
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