As Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, Austria has passed a bill to ban Muslim girls from wearing a headscarf in primary schools.
The new rule does not apply to headgears worn by Jews (‘yarmulke’) and Sikhs (‘patka’) as it pertains to clothing that covers all of the hair or large parts of it.
Those students wearing headscarves for medical reason or to protect from rain and snow are exempted from the rule.
The law was passed by right- leaning People’s Party (ÖVP) and Freedom Party (FPÖ) this week amid strong opposition by most rival parties.
FPÖ viewed the bill as a “signal against political Islam” while ÖVP said it would protect girls against ”enslavement”.
IGGÖ, the official group representing Austrian Muslims, said it will challenge the “destructive” and “discriminatory” scarf ban in the constitutional court.
A former socialist leader, Sonja Hammerschmid, said the government is trying to hog headlines instead of sorting out issues related to integration in schools.
Twenty-two of the 28 EU countries have banned or are considering to ban Islamic headscarves and face veils. Among them are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Denmark and Spain. Romania, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Cyprus and Poland are the EU countries that have not banned Islamic headscarves or made any move to do so.