Austrian MPs vote to ban headscarves in primary schools

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By Matthew Holroyd
Austrian MPs vote to ban headscarves in primary schools
Copyright  REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

Austrian MPs have voted to pass a law banning headscarves in primary schools.

The law refers to ''all head-covering clothes of ideological or religious influence'', but it doesn't apply to the Jewish kippa, or to the turban worn by Sikh men.

The law was tabled by the coalition government, made up of PM Sebastian Kurz' right-wing Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).

The Education spokesman for FPÖ, Wendelin Moelzer, said that the law was ''a signal against political Islam'', while the ÖVP MP Rudolf Taschner declared that it would protect girls against ''enslavement".

When the law was in discussion, the Austrian Muslims organisation IGGÖ called it ''shameful'' and described it as a ''diversion tactic''.

Speaking to Euronews, IGGÖ president Ümit Vural said the ban is ''destructive and disintegrating.''

"There is no way that there is a connection between the Muslim headscarf and so-called political Islam. That is pure propaganda."

Unsere Haltung ist klar: Das Kopftuch ist Teil der Glaubenspraxis der Musliminnen und darf nicht verboten werden.

Publiée par IGGÖ - Islamische Glaubensgemeinschaft in Österreich sur Jeudi 16 mai 2019

The government has said it expects the law to face legal challenges, as Islamic religious organisations plan to dispute the law in Constitutional Court. Almost all opposition MPs in Austria voted against the ban.