(UPI) — Austria’s coalition government proposed a prohibition of full-face veils worn in public on Tuesday.
The move is seen as largely symbolic since an estimated 150 women in Austria wear the niqab, which exposes only the eyes, or the burqa, which covers the face entirely. The order, which took two lines of a 35-page report by the Social Democratic and Austrian People’s parties on their vision for the country’s future, is mean to contain the rise of the far-right Freedom Party, CNN reported.
The document calls for an “open society that requires open communication.”
“Full-face veils in public places are the opposite of that and will be banned,” it said, adding the policy change is meant so that the state “presents itself in a world-open and religiously neutral manner.”
The ban requires the approval of the Austrian Parliament before it can be enforced.
Tarafa Beghajati of the Austrian Muslim Initiative called an outright ban on the veils to be “counterproductive.”
“This is state-run discrimination against Muslim women that violates the Constitution and anti-discrimination laws.”
The government coalition faces the rise in support of the Freedom Party, which has called for a ban on immigration to Austria and what it regards as the Islamization of the country.
France, in 2010, was the first European country to ban the full-face veil in public. Belgium and some parts of Switzerland also adhere to the ban.
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