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    Leukaemia patient wearing a face mask is stopped by police under Austrian laws banning the Islamic veil

    A leukaemia patient who was wearing a medical face mask in Vienna was stopped by police under a ban on the full Islamic veil and other face-coverings brought in last year. 
    The 26-year-old man, identified only as Valentin, said that he was stopped last Tuesday.
    Doctors had told him to wear his mask to protect his immune system, which had been so severely weakened by a intensive course of chemotherapy and other treatment that he had to spend eight weeks in isolation
    The first thing they asked me was whether I spoke German or whether I was foreign,’ Valentin told the Vice News Austrian website.
     
    ‘When I explained that I was from Vienna, things calmed down a bit. But then they went after my face mask.’
    The police explained to him that he was contravening the law, which carries an 80 euro (£70) fine.
    ‘I had asked my doctor about exactly this. But at the time he just laughed and said it would be obvious to anyone why I was wearing it’.
    He showed the police his medication while searching for his blood test results on his phone.
    ‘The whole thing was quite a stressful experience, but in the end they believed me,’ Valentin said.
    He was warned that next time he would need a doctor’s certificate or would face a fine.
    Police spokesman Patrick Maierhofer admitted the man was stopped and said ‘the matter was sorted out after a short conversation’.
    ‘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,’ Maierhofer told the APA agency.
    The law, which came into force on October 1, bans the full Islamic veil, known as the burqa or the niqab, in public places.
    But in order to avoid being sued for discrimination, the government outlawed at the same time any item of clothing that covers the face.
    The ban on the full-face veil, which remains a rare sight in Austria, was seen as an effort by the two parties then in government, the centre left Social Democrats (SPOe) and centre-right People’s Party (OeVP), to halt a rise in support for the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPOe).
    However, the FPOe went on to gain seats in October’s elections and is now the junior partner in an OeVP-led coalition government, with the SPOe going into opposition.
    This is not the first time the ban has seen people stopped controversially.
    In October, a man dressed as a shark was arrested while working as a mascot outside a shop.
    The employee was standing outside McShark in a shark suit to advertise the new electronics store in Vienna.
    Police officers demanded he removed his shark head and when he refused, protesting he was ‘just doing his job’, they arrested him and slapped him with a fine. 
    Just a few days later, the Austrian parliament’s own mascot was targeted by police.
    Lesko, a giant blue bunny, was standing outside Austria’s parliament in Vienna while shooting a promo.
    Police driving past the building spotted Lesko and immediately ordered filming to be stopped while they checked the man’s identification.
    The mascot had to take his mask off so that police could check his true identity during the stop.  

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