Austria to ban full-face veil in public places

The Austrian government has decided to prohibit full-face veils in public spaces such as courts and schools.

Austria to ban full-face veil in public places

The Austrian government has decided to prohibit full-face veils in public spaces such as courts and schools.

The government is also considering a more general ban on state employees wearing the headscarf and other religious symbols.

The ban is part of a package of changes hammered out by the ruling Social Democratic party (SPÖ) and the centre-right Austrian People’s party (ÖVP) to avert the collapse of their coalition government, which would have triggered snap elections, reports The Guardian.


The measures are seen as an attempt to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party. Other new policy goals they have agreed include expanding Austria’s CCTV network and a compulsory “integration year” for asylum seekers, during which they would have to commit themselves to learning German and working for a charitable organisation.

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.

While the government’s working paper also said civil servants in executive positions, such as judges and state prosecutors, should be forced to wear “religiously neutral” clothing, the Austrian justice ministry has distanced itself from the proposals, stating that guidelines already prescribe specific clothing in court.

According to Der Standard newspaper, there are no women with headscarves working for Austria’s police force or the country’s courts.