Life, Europe

Austria prepares for headscarf ban in primary schools

If draft law passes parliament, children under 10 will be prohibited to wear headscarf, violations will be fined

Meryem Göktaş   | 21.11.2018
Austria prepares for headscarf ban in primary schools

By Askin Kiyagan

VIENNA

Austria's far-right government has introduced a draft law to the parliament to ban the headscarf in primary schools, planning to implement it without the support of the opposition.

Transport Minister Norber Hofer told a news conference following the Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday that the government sent the draft law to the opposition parties.

Hofer said that no negotiations would be made with the opposition ahead of the voting of the draft law in the parliament, calling the opposition to vote in favor of it.

The draft prohibits children to wear Muslim headscarves before the age of 10 in all primary schools, including private schools across the country.

If the draft law is approved, parents who violate the ban will be subjected to pay a fine of 440 euros or serve two weeks jail time.

The ban will come into force in 2019 if it passes through the parliament.

The main opposition Social Democratic Party (SPO) and the New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS) said that the draft law should be comprehensively evaluated.

The government was planning to implement the draft law as a constitutional decree by taking a two-thirds majority of the parliament, but due to the opposition's approach, the bill is planned to pass only by the votes of coalition partners.

After the elections in the fall of 2017, the Conservative Party (OVP) led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the youngest leader in Europe, and the Extreme Right Party (FPO) formed a coalition government.

A large number of non-governmental organizations, journalists and activists, particularly the Muslim community living in Austria, opposed to the ban.

Austria is home to around 700,000 Muslims, including 300,000 of Turkish origin. Many of them are second or third-generation Austrian citizens from Turkish families who migrated to the country in the 1960s.

Amid widespread fears from the refugee crisis and international terrorism, Austria’s right-wing parties proposed several controversial measures -- including strict controls on mosques and Muslim associations, and immediately closing them in the case of a suspicious activity.

In Oct. 2017, Austria already applied a face-covering ban, which prevents people from concealing their face in all public places, including transport facilities.

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