Vienna: The Austrian government has passed a law which bans the use of headscarf in primary schools across the country. The headscarf is worn by Muslim girls as part of their traditional attire. However, the Austrian lawmakers maintain that it is a measure to free girls from subjugation.
However, there is no ban on turbans worn by Sikh boys and the kippa worn by Jewish children.
The law was passed by the ruling coalition government run by People’s Party and Freedom Party, which are both right wing nationalists party in Austria. The government had come to power on a strong wave of anti immigration sentiment by the people of Austria.
Both the parties had come to a coalition after 2017 elections and took a tough stance on against immigration. The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, had said in 2018, “Covering up small children is definitely not something for which there should be space in our country.”
Sebastian Kurz had earlier enforced a ban on full face coverings as part of an integration policy with an aim to limit the orthodox Islam in the public life of Austria.
Both the People’s Party and the Freedom Party have said that the ban is targeted at the Islamic headscarf.
The government knows that the law will be challenged in courts because all the opposition party MPs have voted against the ban and a two-third majority is needed in legislations that affects the schools of the country. However, they are prepared to face the issue legally if it is challenged by those opposed to the law.
Predictably, the Muslim community organization and liberalists have raised their voice against the ban calling it “shameless” and “direct assault on the religious freedom of Austrian Muslims”.
Recently, Sri Lanka had banned the full face covering of Muslim women in public after a devastating terrorists attack in three churches and high end hotels killed close to 300 people.
In 2018, Denmark banned wearing of face veils in public. Other countries in Europe that have enforced ban on hijab are France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria. Also the German state of Bavaria has enacted a ban on face veils.
European countries are slowly waking up to the threat of Muslim conservatism and immigration that is threatening the social harmony of the very countries that had given refuge to the immigrants. Far right parties have gained electorally on promise of strong anti-immigration laws and Europe seems to be sinking into a violent clash between liberal and free ideology on one hand and the traditional and ultra conservative ideology of Islam.