World’s Youngest Leader Bans Religious Headscarves from Austria’s Schools

World’s Youngest Leader Bans Religious Headscarves from Austria’s Schools

Head coverings banned from Austrian primary schools following full-face cover ban

The world’s youngest leader, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, has approved strict new measures to ban all religious headscarves and head coverings from Austria’s primary schools.

Austrian lawmakers have backed plans to ban headscarves being worn in schools, a move that would add to existing restrictions on wearing veils and full-face coverings, such as Burkas, in public places.

The move was approved late on Wednesday by the governing coalition of Kurz’s conservative People’s Party and the populist Freedom Party.

Kurz’s administration acknowledged that the new headscarf ban will likely face challenges at Austria’s Constitutional Court.

The legislators who proposed the ban openly admit that the measure is “specifically targeted at Muslim girls.”

According to the Daily Mail, the measure bans wearing “ideologically or religiously characterized clothing” that covers the head, and specifies that it refers to items “that cover the whole or large parts of the hair.”

Mr. Kurz’s government introduced a ban on burkas and other full-face coverings in 2017.

The new ban is seen as an extension of the current restrictions. 

Austria’s previous government prohibited full-face veils in courts, schools and other “public places” and banned police officers, judges, magistrates and public prosecutors from wearing headscarves.

In June last year, Austria’s government announced the closure of seven mosques and plans to expel imams in a crackdown on “political Islam” and foreign financing of religious groups.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz shut a hardline Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolved a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six mosques.

The actions by the government are based on a 2015 law that, among other things, prevents religious communities from getting funding from abroad. 

Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said the residence permits of around 40 imams employed by ATIB, a group that oversees Turkish mosques in Austria, were under review.  

The conservative Kurz became chancellor in December 2017 in a coalition with the anti-migration Freedom Party.

In campaigning for the 2017 election, both coalition parties called for tougher immigration controls, quick deportations of asylum-seekers whose requests are denied and a crackdown on radical Islam. 

“Parallel societies, political Islam and tendencies toward radicalization have no place in our country,” Kurz told reporters in Vienna.

He added that the government’s powers to intervene “were not sufficiently used” in the past.

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