Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who heads Austria’s right- wing government disclosed plans to ban girls enrolled in kindergarten and primary schools from wearing headscarves. The decision was spurred by the Austrian government’s belief that the tradition of Muslim women wearing headscarves could pose a threat to the national culture.
Kurz who won last year’s election by adopting a hard line stance versus immigration wants to protect and retain the integrity of Austrian traditions, culture and values:
“Our goal is to confront any development of parallel societies in Austria. Girls wearing a headscarf in kindergarten or primary school is of course, part of that.”
It is part of Muslim tradition for girls to wear headscarves beginning puberty. Prior to that, they are not required to wear the headscarf.
For Kurz, if the proposal takes fruition, it would be a progressive step in their advocacy in driving Austrian nationalism forward:
“What I can tell you is that it is a growing phenomenon. A few decades ago, we did not have this in Austria and now it occurs primarily in Islamic kindergartens but also here and there in public establishments of Vienna and other cities.”
A bill supporting the move would still have to be set into motion. However, should the proposal become law, it would be implemented for girls of up to 10 years of age.
For the proposal to be enacted into law, the government must secure two- thirds majority vote in parliament. This means Kurz needs the support of the Social Democrats or the liberal Neos party.
The Social Democrats want a more comprehensive version of the proposed bill. For their part, the Neos party said they would still have to review the initial draft of the proposal.
Austria’s prominent Muslim groups and organizations have yet to issue statements regarding the plans to ban headscarves for girls in kindergarten.
The Social Democrats were able to pass a law that prohibited women from wearing full- face coverings. The law covered Muslim full- face veils that are worn in public areas. However, women and girls were allowed to wear the regular hijab.
A debate over having religious symbols in schools prevented a law banning teachers from wearing headscarves. Oppositionists to the law cited the continued practice of hanging Catholic crosses on many classroom walls.