This Country Just Banned The Full-Face Veil

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Women in Austria will no longer be allowed to wear the full-face veil in public spaces, the country's ruling coalition has decided. The government is also considering prohibiting state employees from wearing the Islamic headscarf and other religious symbols, the BBC reported. The move is part of a programme aimed at countering the rise of the country's far-right Freedom Party, whose candidate Norbert Hofer lost the presidential election last month, and will no doubt appeal to a large number of right-wing voters. The ban, which will apply in spaces such as schools and courts, will affect an estimated 150 women in Austria who wear the full veil. However, the impact could be more far-reaching. Tourism industry officials believe tourists from the Gulf may be put off visiting Austria, as popular ski resorts, such as Zell am See, will be affected. The government dedicated just two lines to the proposed niqab and burqa ban in its outline of the reforms, reported the BBC. "We are committed to an open society, which also presupposes open communication. A full-face veil in public places stands in its way and will therefore be banned," it said. Conservative vice chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner called the ban a "symbolic" step, and integration minister Sebastian Kurz said it would enable Muslim women to be seen as neutral, the BBC reported. Other European countries have also banned the full-face veil. France and Belgium banned it in 2011 and the Dutch parliament recently approved a partial ban of “face-covering clothing”. Last month, German chancellor Angela Merkel also said full-face veils should be banned in the country "wherever it is legally possible".

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