Austria mulls headscarf ban for public employees

January 6, 2017 10:30 pm

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (Photo by AP)

’s top diplomat says he is drawing up a controversial draft law to prohibit all public servants, including school teachers, from wearing headscarves while allowing Christian symbols.
A spokesman for Austria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz said on Friday that the minister would also like to include a ban on full body veils and limits on the distribution of the Muslim holy book of Qur’an by Salafists.
“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,” the spokesman quoted Kurz as saying.
However, Christian crosses should be allowed in classrooms, Kurz was further cited as saying.
The Austrian foreign minister, of the Christian Conservative People’s Party (OVP), is said to be working on the contentious measure with Muna Duzdar, of the OVP’s senior Social Democrat coalition partner.

Muslim women are on their way to the opening ceremony for the Islamic cemetery in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by AP)

Austria’s most prominent Muslim group, IGGIO, reacted to the development, saying discrimination in the workplace on religious grounds was illegal in the European country.
An unnamed IGGIO spokeswoman said the headscarf ban would send the wrong signal, particularly because female civil servants wearing the cover could help overcome deep “patriarchal prejudices.”
Meanwhile, Duzdar said she would wait for a final ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) concerning the banning of headscarves at work before sending the bill to the Austrian parliament for ratification.
The issue of the Muslim veils such as the burkini, the full-body Islamic swimsuit, and the niqab, the face cover, has recently turned into a hot topic in .
Many European states have imposed strict laws banning Muslim veils in violation of religious freedom and expression.
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