A member of the Austrian parliament wears hijab when protesting the child-hijab ban.
Rabat – Independent Member of the Austrian Parliament, Martha Bissmann wore a hijab in a general assembly speech as she protested a recent controversial ban on child hijabs in Austria’s elementary schools.
On Wednesday, May 15, the Austrian government approved a law prohibiting girls under the age of 11 from wearing the veil at school. Muslim groups believe the law “sensationalizes a marginal issue and plays on citizens’ fears.”
“This is the first step to ban headscarves in everyday life,” Bissmann said.
The intention behind the ban, according to Austria’s National Council, is to “promote integration in Austrian schools” by prohibiting “ideologically or religiously characterized clothing.”
“The ban on headscarves in primary schools will only lead to segregation and discrimination of Muslim girls,” said the Islamic Faith Community in Austria. The group says it plans to take the new law to Constitutional Court. Described by the Islamic Faith Community as “discriminatory,” the law does not apply to the Jewish kippah or the Sikh patkah.
Typically, Muslim girls make the choice to wear the veil after puberty. The law applies to prepubescent girls in primary school, who don’t usually wear the veil. Previously, the right-wing of the Austrian government considered banning teachers from wearing the veil, but backed down once it was understood that other religious symbols, like the Catholic cross, would be brought into the debate.
A majority of lawmakers opposing the right-wing voted against the ban, which was proposed by Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, a member of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO). However, conservatives, who make up a majority of the current Austrian government, voted for the ban, which is why it passed.
Bissman said that the politicians behind the ban aim to eliminate “high values such as tolerance and freedom of religion.”