Austria has become the latest European country to ban full-face veils in what is being seen as a response to the rise of right-wing political parties across the continent.
The ban, which was negotiated after a week of talks, was announced by Chancellor Christian Kern and is due to be phased in over the next 18 months.
“The full-face veil will be banned in public spaces,” Mr Kern said after the negotiations.
A 35-page statement outlining the ban and various related policies was also published. It includes details of strengthened security measures and moves to force immigrants to sign an “integration contract” and a “statement of values”.
The coalition statement included this passage: “Those who are not prepared to accept Enlightenment values will have to leave our country and society. We believe in an open society that is also based on open communication. Full-body veils in public spaces stand against that and will therefore be prohibited.”
Face veils have been defined as the Muslim burka and niqab. The agreement also bans police officers, judges, magistrates and public prosecutors from wearing head scarves in the interest of appearing “ideologically and religiously neutral”.
The burqa and niqab are already banned in public places in France. Burka bans have also been approved by MPs in Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Switzerland.
31 January 2017