Austria has just agreed to a full-face veil ban in all public spaces

Full-face veils will be banned in courts, schools and other public arenas. And, police officers, judges, magistrates will also be prohibited from wearing them, too

With everyone talking about the just-issued US Travel ban (also know colloquially as the ‘Muslim ban’), it seems that all eyes are on worldwide policies.

Austria have just released the statement: ‘We believe in an open society that is also based on open communication. Full-body veils in public spaces stand against that and will therefore be prohibited,’ as part of their plan to ban full-face veils and headscarves in public.

The prohibition will affect Muslim women who wear niqab (full-face covering) or the burqa (full face-and-body covering). The conversation over Islamic headdresses, including the burqa, niqab, hijab and abaya, has long been a hotly debated issue, asking whether it’s a culturally progressive or fundamentally misogynistic practice.

The French parliament passed this same act over six years ago, becoming the first European Union country to enforce the ban before countries like Switzerland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Belgium followed suit with similar bans. And, in December last year, German chancellor Angela Merkel also called for a ban on anyone wearing the full-face veil ‘wherever it is legally possible’.

The country’s coalition have also said that public figures including policewomen, court judges and magistrates will be prohibited from wearing any full-face veils also in a bid to make sure that they can appear ‘ideologically and religiously neutral’ while serving the public. The state is also considering a general ban on those employed by the state wearing any religious symbols at all.

This rule comes as part of a 35-page reform programme statement from Austria to counter the rise of their popular far-right Freedom party ahead of next year’s parliamentary election. It’s also being suggested that migrants will need to sign an ‘integration contract’ and a ‘statement of values’ upon arrival into the country with ‘those who are not prepared to accept Enlightenment values having to leave’ their country ‘and society.’

This comes as a symbolic step towards an ‘open society’ in a country where an estimated 150 women wear the niqab.

The UK does not currently have a ban on the burqa or the niqab.

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