Austria to ban full-face veil in public places
Austria’s ruling coalition has agreed to prohibit full-face veils in public spaces such as courts and schools.
It is also considering a more general ban on state employees wearing the headscarf and other religious symbols.
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.
The centrist coalition nearly collapsed last week amid crisis negotiations over the government’s future direction.S
Detailing the package of reforms, the coalition devoted just two lines to the planned ban on the Islamic niqab and burqa.
“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,” it said.
An estimated 150 women wear the full niqab in Austria but tourism officials have expressed fears that the measures will also deter visitors from the Gulf.
One government spokesman told an Austrian newspaper that the ban would apply for ski resorts such as Zell am See as much as the centre of Vienna.