The government of Austria has passed a measure banning the full-face Islamic veils, including the burka and niqab, in public places. Hijabs and other Islamic headscarves will still be permitted.
“The measures are seen as an attempt to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party, whose candidate narrowly lost last month’s presidential vote,” reports the BBC.
Far-right populist politicians, who are calling for stricter measures directed at Muslims, are gaining popular support and influence among widespread fears and anxieties associated with radical Islam. Austria’s ruling centrists are conceding political territory to the far-right opposition in hopes of quelling the public’s frustrations with Europe’s inability to shut down terror cells staffed by Muslim migrants.
“We are committed to an open society, which also presupposes open communication. A full-face veil in public places stands in its way and will therefore be banned,” stated the ruling coalition, detailing a comprehensive plan for reform.
“Further measures agreed by Austria’s Social Democrats and their conservative People’s party partners include electronic tagging of former jihadists and a proposed curb on foreign workers,” adds the BBC.
While government officials continue to toy with the idea of broadening the ban to include state employees who wear hijabs, the latest measures passed only affect the roughly 150 niqab and burka-donning Muslim women in Austria.
Neighboring Western European states, including France and Belgium, considered similar bans against full-face veils as far back as 2011 to curb the threat of Islamic radicalization.