A man suffering from leukaemia and forced to wear a medical mask to protect his immune system was stopped by Austrian police under a ban on Islamic clothing.
The 26-year-old, identified only as ‘Valentin’, was told he was breaking the so-called ‘burqa ban’, a law that forbids people in Austria wearing the Islamic veil and other face coverings.
Doctors had told him to wear a medical mask to protect his immune system, that had been severely weakened by an intensive course of chemotherapy.
The patient had to spend eight weeks in isolation before he was allowed out – but was stopped by police for wearing the mask in Vienna last week.
He told Vice News: ‘The first thing they asked me was whether I spoke German or whether I was foreign.
‘When I explained that I was from Vienna, things calmed down a bit. But then they went after my face mask.’
After being told he faced an 80 euro (£70) fine, Valentin showed the police his medication and his blood test results on his phone.
He added: ‘The whole thing was quite a stressful experience, but in the end they believed me.’
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However, police warned him that he would need to carry a doctor’s certificate around with him or he may face a fine if he is stopped again.
Police spokesman Patrick Maierhofer admitted the man was stopped but said ‘the matter was sorted out after a short conversation’.
He added: ‘Covering your face for medical reasons is an exception. In such cases the police must be given credible proof that it is being worn for medical reasons.’
The ‘burqa ban’ came into effect in Austria last October in an attempt to stop a rise in support for anti-immigration Freedom Party by the two governing parties – who later went on to form a coalition government with the centre-right People’s Party.