Heinz Fassmann, an Austrian expert who is consulting the government on integration, has called for a ban on the burqa to be enforced throughout the country’s public sector. Speaking to the newspaper ‘Die Presse’, Fassmann bravely said, “When asked whether teachers in public schools should be allowed to wear a headscarf, I would clearly say: No”.
Fassmann went on to say that “you run the risk of importing certain religious conflicts into the civil service” if the burqa continued to be legal. It should be emphasised that the burqa facilitates violence and terrorism due to its ability to provide the wearer with a form of disguise. Even ISIS banned the burka because it allowed a female assassin to kill two of its soldiers.
He also said that it should be permissible for teachers to wear crosses or other symbols associated with Christianity, despite promoting the ban on the burqa. And rightly so, as Christianity defines Austrian heritage and should be prioritised by the government in order to ensure the continued preservation of this heritage. Christian values are of immense importance to the Western world because of the latter’s inextricable connection with the former. Other religions are simply new entrants to Austria, thus justifying the special position afforded to Christianity.
However, Austria’s Islamic community has aired its opposition to this proposal for obvious reasons. Spokesperson for the Islamic organisation IGGiO, Carla Amina Baghjati, unable to comprehend that “something so anti-integrative comes from an integration expert”. Did she not expect an Austrian integration expert to recommend banning a dress that would pose a danger to the public sector?
A responsible migrant would expect and embrace a certain degree of assimilation when moving to a different country. Calling a burqa ban an act of discrimination, as IGGiO did, is completely irresponsible as it ignores the association between the burqa and terrorism. Opposing the fact that Christian symbols would be allowed while the burqa ban is in place is even more irresponsible, and downright disrespectful, as it shows that Islamic migrants do not acknowledge or respect the culture and heritage endemic to Austria. They would not sacrifice their own religion in favour of migrants in the Middle East, so why get offended at the Austrian government prioritising its own religion in comparison to those of migrants?
This is not the first attempt for the burqa to be banned in Austria. The country’s Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, attempted to enforce this ban late last year but had no success due to interference from left-wing parties.
France already bans the burqa along with all other religious symbols from being worn by public servants. This may seem commendable, but the fact that its ultimately flawed is evident in Christian symbols also being subject to the ban. France constitutes the other extreme within this debate: banning Christian symbols alongside those of Islam in the name of equality. A Western country should not ban Christian symbols because, as mentioned earlier, its culture is inextricably linked to the religion. Banning Christian symbols in the name of equality is also regressive, and is a grave act of disrespect to one’s own heritage.
While Fassmann’s words are of immense service to society, it has to be noted that he also denied that it was the state’s role to promote any religion. This is something not all conservatives may agree with. While preserving secularism is useful, it has to be emphasised that the state should benchmark its policies with religious beliefs that define its country’s heritage. However, government should not cave in to the pleas by Muslims to keep the burqa legal. National security and preventing terrorism are more important than catering to the feelings of migrants.