Austria agrees full-face veil ban in public places

Author

01 February, 2017

AUSTRIA has announced plans to ban Islamic full-face veils in courts, schools and other public places.

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. "Full-body veils in public spaces stand against that and will therefore be prohibited".

The paper particularly stresses that all Salafist propaganda and recruiting campaigns as well as distributing the Koran by Salafist groups would be banned in Austria.

The document includes plans to increase Austria's surveillance and security services.

There are also measures promising to lower taxes and non-wage labour costs and to create 70,000 new jobs. Such a system was provisionally implemented between 2004 and 2011 after many countries of Central and Eastern Europe joined the EU.

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In an effort to end the squabbling within his government, Kern demanded that all ministers sign off on the new pact, a request that was refused by combative conservative Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka in an interview with the Kurier daily, signaling that the agreement may still stumble in the final stretch.

The ban, which is meant to target Muslims, was put forth by Austrian political parties to counter the far-right Freedom Party, reported the BBC, and will need approval from the Austrian parliament before it becomes law.

There has been speculation for months that the Austrian coalition might call early elections.

The proposals were contained in a policy document laying out a vision for the country as an "open society that requires open communication".

Austria, which has a population of about 8.7 million people, received more than 130,000 claims for asylum from people coming from the Middle East and Northern Africa since the summer of 2015 and took in one of the greatest numbers of refugees per capita along with Sweden.


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