Activists Make Powerful Hijab Statement in Austria

Published May 20th, 2019 - 07:25 GMT
Martha Bissmann (Twitter)
Martha Bissmann (Twitter)
Highlights
So as to avoid charges that the law discriminates against Muslims, the law refers to any "ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head".

Ruling coalition made up of centre-right OVP and far-right FPO banned hijabs in schools, leading to an outcry by Muslims and civil rights campaigners.

Austrian MPs on Wednesday approved a law aimed at banning the headscarf in primary schools, a measure proposed by the ruling right-wing government.

 

So as to avoid charges that the law discriminates against Muslims, the law refers to any "ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head".

However, representatives of both parties of the governing coalition, the centre-right People's Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), have made it clear that the law targets headscarves worn by Muslim women.

Here are some reactions from locals from Austria and Germany.

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Tarek Bae, an independent journalist from Germany shared the following on Facebook:

“Critics of the law make comparisons with the Nazi era and in this case one should probably discuss this soberly. Without painting the devil on the wall, it is fair to say that prohibition policy is more reminiscent of the darker chapter of the last century in Europe. 

In purely constitutional terms, therefore, prohibitions are more than just controversial among lawyers. Another explosive aspect is that it does not affect all types of headgear, which can have many political or religious reasons, but explicitly the headscarf.”

The Syrian-born Austrian Muslim activist and writer, Tarafa Baghajati said: "One thing remains 100 percent certain: This bill really has 0.0 percent to do with the well-being of the children." 

Sabrina Dorn, a lecturer in Economic at the Swiss ETH Zurich, showed her solidarity with Muslim women wearing the hijab. She wrote: "Dear [Austrian] government!  Well, bite this! Banning the headscarf while allowing other religious symbols is incomprehensible and we should not tolerate the discrimination of the Muslim community in this country!"

She was not the only one. Stefani Paulsen, a local Social Democrat Party member and a lecturer at the AStA University of Applied Sciences in Northern Germany Flensburg shared the following:

"The constant discussions about the headscarves are really unnecessary. I like to wear a headscarf and woe betide it becomes forbidden here (Germany). I'll probably emigrate."

The independent Austrian MP Martha Bissmann protested by wearing a hijab during her speech in the Austrian Parliament.

She later said: "Let's not allow a wedge to be driven between us.

"I am decidedly against headscarf compulsion - whether in Iran or in Austrian elementary schools. Under no circumstances should a girl be forced to wear a headscarf."

"What a courageous gesture, what a courageous statement! They strengthen my belief in a peaceful coexistence - many thanks for that, all the best for their future and warm greetings from Germany!"

AK Party MP, Mustafa Yeneroglu, who lives between Germany and Turkey expressed his disapproval: 

"Allegedly, the headscarf ban is intended to prevent discrimination and exclusion; in fact, that is exactly what it aims to achieve. Muslims in Austria are increasingly being pushed out of society and Muslim religiosity is being criminalised. The law is aimed exclusively at Muslims. A liberal legal system does not show its qualities with ideologically motivated prohibitions, especially in dealing with minorities."

Mr Yeneroglu further thanked Mr Bissmann for supporting the Muslim community.

This article has been adapted from its original source.    


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