The Austrian government has announced plans to ban full-face Islamic veils in public-places, joining Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, and Switzerland, who also have approved similar bans.
The coalition of Social Democrats and the centrist People’s party, who agreed on the ban, are calling for police offers, judges, magistrates, and public prosecutors to participate in the ban as well by refraining from wearing head scarves.
The order, which took two lines of a 35-page report outlines their vision for Austria as an “open society that requires open communication.”
“Full-face veils in public places are the opposite of that and will be banned,” the document said, adding the policy change is meant so that the state “presents itself in a world-open and religiously neutral manner.”
Conservative Muslim women are most likely to be impacted by Austria’s full-face veil ban, which will apply to only burqas and niqabs.
According to Chancellor Christian Kern, the ban will be implemented over the next 18 months. But, will require the approval of the Austrian Parliament before it can be enforced.
The government will also try to force asylum-seekers and some migrants to sign an “integration contract and a declaration of values” and agree to “strict sanctions” if the contract is violated. It will seek to reinforce border controls, increase police presence and tighten asylum procedures.
The announcement was met with a backlash from Islamic groups, who slammed the plan as discriminatory.
Moving to oppose the proposed ban, Austrian Muslim MP Muna Duzdar has called for an extension of the law to include removal of Christian crosses in Austrian schools.
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