The Austrian government is on the verge to prohibit the use of Islamic full-face veils in courts, schools and other “public places,” as part of a raft of measures to contain the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.
This is just as it is also considering a more general ban on state employees wearing the headscarf and other religious symbols.
The measures are seen as an attempt to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party, whose candidate narrowly lost last month’s presidential vote.
The Social Democratic and Austrian People’s parties, which rule in a coalition, on Monday released a 35-page document outlining their vision for Austria as an “open society that requires open communication.”
“We are committed to an open society, which also presupposes open communication. A full-face veil in public places stands in its way and will therefore be banned,” the document said.
The ban would apply to the burqa and niqabs, which cover all or most of the face and are often worn by conservative Muslim women.
Meanwhile, any ban would need the Austrian Parliament’s approval to be enforced.
The document says that Austria was introducing the reforms to ensure the “state presents itself in a world-open and religiously neutral manner,” adding that civil servants in uniform as well as judges and prosecutors should show religious neutrality in the way they dress in public, effectively banning them from wearing Islamic headscarves.
The ban is also coming amid growing concerns of harassment against Muslims around the world following US President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on citizens from some Muslim-majority countries entering the United States.