The Austrian government has announced it will ban Islamic full-face veils in public as one of several security and political measures. It will also make it a requirement for all immigrants, including those already residing in Austria, to sign an ‘integration contract’ and ‘statement of values’.
A ban on face veils has been a point of debate among Austrians for quite some time, with an Austrian integration expert calling for the government to ban face veils in the public sector. Heinz Fassmann’s recommendations, which took into account the burqa’s association with terrorism and religious conflict, have now materialised.
The ban is included in the new ‘Integration Plan’ introduced by the ruling coalition consisting of the left-wing Social-Democratic Party and the right-wing People’s Party.
The new measures will be rolled out over the next 18 months as a response to the growing nationalist sentiment in the country. It is hoped that these measures will help appeal to disenchanted right-wing voters who are intent on voting for the Party for Freedom.
The ban includes the niqab and burqa, which cover most of the face of Islamic women. “Those who are not prepared to accept Enlightenment values will have to leave our country and society,” the plan said.
It went on to say, “We believe in an open society that is also based on open communication. Full-body veils in public spaces stand against that and will therefore be prohibited.” It will also ban any Islamic face veils among government and public officials, police, judges and prosecutors in order to promote “religious neutrality” in public services.
The plan will also make it compulsory for all immigrants to learn German and attend values lessons in order to help prioritise assimilation. Refusal to comply will result in cuts to welfare and other benefits.
In addition, all Salafist propaganda and the distribution of the Qu’ran by followers of Salafism, an anti-colonial fundamentalist reform branch of Sunni Islam, will be banned in the country. Other security measures include the electronic tagging of former jihadists and greater video surveillance. Most importantly, the number of migrants into Austria will also be reduced.
These measures should be seen in all Western countries. France has already banned the niqab and burka in public places, the first EU country to do so. And Austria has followed suit. Now it’s time for more and more countries to do the same. Not only are they essential for security reasons, but also to ensure Western culture and heritage, along with the freedoms of those living in the West, are protected. If this isn’t reason enough for political parties to follow suit, then the fact that their survival depends on conforming to the current revival of nationalism and other right-wing values should be a source of motivation. Otherwise, they will fall under the shadow of new parties that have embraced patriotism and tradition.