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Campaign against full-face Muslim veils launched in Austria

Published time: July 05, 2014 02:19
Edited time: July 06, 2014 15:52
Reuters/Omar Sobhani

Reuters/Omar Sobhani

As part of his party’s plan to introduce a bill banning full-face veils, Austrian politician Heinz-Christian Strache posted on a social network an image of a young blonde woman with the phrase “Too beautiful for a veil.”

The campaign was launched by the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader and Member of Parliament Heinz-Christian Strache on his Facebook page. According to the politician, the poster is aimed “against the Islamization of Europe.”

The image refers to the party's recent call for a ban on wearing the Muslim burqa in public. Based on the judgement by the European Court of Human Rights, who didn't oppose the legality of the French burqa ban of 2011, FPÖ plans to introduce the same bill into the Austrian parliament next week.

“In many conservative circles of Islamic immigration society there is a prevailing view that women are second-class citizens,” party spokeswoman Carmen Gartelgruber commented, adding that “one of the many tools of oppression is the burqa.”

A burqa is the full-body veil worn by women according to Islamic traditions, which covers even the eyes with a fine-mesh grid. Another type of veil – the niqab, leaves a slit for the eyes.

The full-body veils, especially burqas, aren’t something you'll often see on the streets of Austria. Referring to the fact that it's extremely rare, the planned ban has not been supported by other political forces in Austria.

Reuters/Thaier Al-Sudani


“One should not create an artificial problem here. I have seen women wearing headscarves in Vienna, but not a burqa. In Austria the number of burqa wearers is estimated at only around one hundred. FPÖ has once again tried to provoke fear and dramatize,” Reinhold Lopatka of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) told the Wiener Zeitung.

The conservative ÖVP wants to vote against the Freedom Party proposal.

The original image of the blonde girl for the anti-veil campaign could not be found on Strache's Facebook page on July 4. But the politician posted an image with a Dalai Lama quote in German, saying “if there are too many immigrants, you have to muster up the courage to say it is enough.”

In Switzerland, the citizens of the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino voted with a clear majority to ban full-face veils last September. The parliament in Bern must now consider whether the proposal is consistent with the Swiss Constitution. The Swiss People's Party (SVP) now also plans to launch a national referendum on a burqa ban next year.

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