March 29, 2017

Austrian government calls for ban of full-face veils

01 February 2017, 01:10 | Candice Butler

Leonhard Foeger Reuters

Muslim face veil ban on Austrian ruling coalition action plan

"A full-face veil in public places stands in its way and will therefore be banned", the document said.

It comes eight months after Mr Kern replaced Werner Faymann at the head of the coalition between the Social Democrats (SPOe) and the centre-right People's Party (OeVP).

Austria have just released the statement: 'We believe in an open society that is also based on open communication.

According to BBC News, approximately 150 Austrian women wear these veils but some officials worry the ban could hurt tourism.

The proposed Muslim face veil ban mostly applies to the burka and niqab - the veils that cover the whole face or leave only the eyes open.

National bans are now being debated by politicians in Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland; German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last month that the full-face veil should be banned in public "wherever it is legally possible".

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.

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Numerous measures set out in the programme must be hammered out in detail and receive parliamentary approval before they can come into force.

She compared the policy to U.S. President Donald Trump's recent executive order restricting travel to the U.S. from a number of Muslim countries, saying both measures were aimed at "excluding Muslims".

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said the veil ban is actually mean to make Muslims be more included in Austrian society and is meant to avoid giving "600,000 Muslims in Austria the feeling that they are not part of our society".

"This is state-run discrimination against Muslim women that violates the Constitution and anti-discrimination laws".

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.

France became the first European country to ban the full-face veil officially in 2010.

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