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Austria Bans Face Veils, Forces Migrants to Attend Integration Courses and to Carry out Public Labor

Austria has passed a new law which ban women from wearing Islamic face veils in public. The controversial new legislation also forces migrants to attend integration courses and asylum seekers to do unpaid public service.

From October, police will start handing out £130 fines to women found wearing burqas and niqabs at universities, courts or on public transport.

Under new rules, migrants who have a ‘good chance’ of staying in Austria must attend a 12-month integration school.

These would offer German courses and teach asylum seekers about the ethics, values and culture of the country. Any migrants who refuse to attend the courses, or do unpaid public jobs, would have their benefits cut.

The measure, backed by ruling parties the Social Democratic party (SPÖ) and Austrian People’s party (ÖVP), has divided opinion, with 3,000 women taking to the streets to protest against the ban in February.

However there are those, including the far-right FPÖ party, which criticised the government for not going far enough, DW reported. Last month, Austria’s left-leaning president Alexander Van Der Bellen insisted that all women should wear headscarves to combat Islamophobia. The green-backed independent triumphed over his populist right-wing rival Norbert Hofer in December after an unprecedented repeat vote.

Speaking to students at The House of the European Union in Vienna, he said: ‘It is the right of a woman… to dress herself however she wants. That is my opinion about it. Besides that, not only Muslim women. Every woman can wear a headscarf. And if it goes on – and I am already on the next question – with actual rampant Islamophobia, the day will come that we must ask all women to wear a headscarf.’

His government banned the full-face veil in public spaces in January, as part of an attempt to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.

The measure was introduced by the ruling SPÖ and the centre-right ÖVP to prevent the collapse of their coalition government.

Thousands of Muslim women have marched in Vienna against controversial government plans to ban full-face veils in February. An estimated 3,000 took part in the rally calling for the law change to be abandoned, accusing the government of Islamophobia. Placards declared that wearing a veil is a personal choice, and protesters claimed that the measure is both sexist and anti-Muslim.

They accused the Austrian government of attacking their freedoms, and RT reports that chants included: ‘Hey, minister! Hands off my sister!’

Via Daily Mail

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