Austrian minister calls for Islamic headscarf ban

Austria's Foreign Affairs Minister says public servants, including school teachers, should be banned from wearing the Islamic headscarf.

Nissan Tzur ,

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Flag of Austria
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Austria's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz is calling for public servants, including school teachers, to be banned from wearing the Islamic headscarf, Reuters reports.

Kurz, of the Christian Conservative People's Party (OVP), is reportedly working on a draft law with Muna Duzdar, a junior minister from the OVP's senior Social Democrat coalition partner who has an Arab family background and is Muslim.

"Because there (schools), it's about the effect of role models and the influence on young people. Austria is religion-friendly but also a secular state," Kurz was quoted as having said on Friday.

He added that Christian crosses, which are widespread in Catholic Austria, should be allowed in classrooms.

If the law is passed by the Austrian parliament, the nationwide ban would be stricter than laws in France, where only the full body veil is illegal, or Germany, where the highest court in 2015 restricted lawmakers' scope to ban teachers from wearing the headscarf, according to Reuters.

Several European countries have moved to ban the face-covering niqab and full-body burqa in recent years.

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.

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

The proposed legislation seeks to ban such face coverings in locations where the ability to identify a person’s face is deemed essential, such as in government buildings, schools, hospitals, and public transport.

In Germany, meanwhile, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has said that the Muslim face veil is not compatible with German society but admitted it would probably be difficult to ban it at the national level.

Despite his remarks, Chancellor Angela Merkel recently stated that "the full burqa is not suitable here" and added that she would initiate legislation against it.

Kurz is revamping Austria's integration laws and would also like to include a ban on full body veils and restrictions on the distribution of the Quran by Salafist Muslims, Kurz's spokesman was quoted by Reuters as having said.



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