As the integration minister Sebastian Kurz announced on Friday, he wants to take over, as per die Presse, the proposal for a headscarf ban in the public service sector as part of the new Austrian integration laws. This new development will get kicked back to the government adviser Heinz Faßmann.
In particular, it is suggested that the school sector should include such a prohibition. The ÖVP minister justified his decision by saying: "Because it has to do with setting an example which has an influence on young people, that Austria is a religion-friendly, but also a secular state". The only exception to this is confessional religious education.
Crosses in classrooms would not be in question, since these are intrinsic to the culture in Austria. According to Kurz, the proposed law was in accordance with Austrian constitutional law.
The Minister of Integration wants to discuss these intentions with the Muslim Secretary of State Muna Duzdar (SPÖ) in the coming negotiations on the Integration Act. Other negotiating points will also include a prohibition of Koran distribution for Salafists, a ban on full head coverings, and charitable work for refugees.
Also reported in the Austrian daily die Presse, Heinz Faßmann stated that the prohibition is to show that the state of Austria is "above these religions". "If you do not, you run the risk of importing certain religious conflicts into the civil service," the government adviser said.
Islamic associations severely criticized Kurz and Faßmann for their statements. The spokeswoman of Carla-Amina Baghajati, the largest Islamic religious organization in Austria, said that "the state as an employer should adhere to anti-discrimination legislation". "That something so anti-integrative comes from an integration expert," Baghajati continued, is "absurd."
Schard also reacted to Omar al-Rawi, a representative of the SPÖ in the Viennese town council: "We have to talk to state our position clearly.” He also announced that he wanted to abolish the cooperation between the Muslims in Austria and the Ministry of Integration.
The debate on a ban on the headscarf in Austria reflects the growing fear of the increased Islamisation of Austria. One of many examples is the startling fact reported in Der Standard that more than 280 Muslims planned to go to Syria and Iraq as "Foreign Fighters". Austria is thus ranked 4th in the EU of such a dubious honor.
The latest developments also pose a concern. As reported by the German daily Krone: A study published at the beginning of the last year showed that in the 150 Islam preschools in the capital Vienna that the children are being educated (though indoctrinated is a better word) to hate Austrian society. Chechen immigrants started patrols in the guise of "Shariah Police" in a Viennese shopping center in 2016. Seemingly small examples of a very sinister trend.
All these developments are now also moving levers within Austria's conservative party, the ÖVP, against the aggressively advancing Islam. With the demand for a headscarf ban, Kurz and Faßmann also have started to adopt solutions long since proposed by what is now Austria’s largest political party, the patriotic FPÖ, as well as the European youth movement, the Identitarians.
The original German follows below.
Alexander Markovics is an Austrian writer and sometimes muckraker who lives in Vienna. Background in history and politics. You can read more of his fine work (in German) here, or
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