Austrian court strikes down law banning headscarf

Austria's constitutional court says law banning headscarf in primary schools is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Muslim woman in burqa (illustration)
Muslim woman in burqa (illustration)
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Austria's constitutional court on Friday struck down a law introduced last year which banned the headscarf in primary schools, saying the measure was unconstitutional and discriminatory, AFP reports.

In a statement explaining the decision, the court said the law "contravened the principle of equality in relation to freedom of religion, belief and conscience".

The law prevented girls younger than 10 from wearing the headscarf and had been challenged by two children and their parents.

The measure was passed in May 2019 under the previous coalition of the center-right People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), just days before that government collapsed due to a corruption scandal.

The text of the legislation attempted to avoid charges of discrimination by banning "ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head".

Nevertheless, the court said that the law could only be understood as targeting Islamic head coverings.

The current OeVP Education Minister Heinz Fassmann said that the ministry would "take note of the judgement and look into its arguments".

"I regret that girls will not have the opportunity to make their way through the education system free from compulsion," he added.

Several European countries in recent years have passed legislation banning headgear associated with Islam, beginning with France which 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 2018, Denmark approved a ban on garments that cover the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)



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