By Askin Kiyagan
VIENNA (AA) – Austrian Muslims and a number of other civil society associations on Thursday strongly condemned a legal proposal to impose a ‘hijab’ ban after it was announced by the Austrian prime minister.
Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday said that legal preparations were under way to ban the hijab (headscarf worn by Muslim women) in elementary schools.
He said the legal proposal was called “the child protection law” and was aimed at preventing the formation of “a parallel political ideology” in the country.
Ibrahim Olgun, the head of the Islamic Religious Authority of Austria (IGGO), described the proposal as “unacceptable” in his interview to Anadolu Agency. He said the proposed ban was merely aimed at creating an agenda in which children would be used as political tools and the headscarf would be portrayed as an Islamic political symbol.
“If politics is not done through the kippah of Jews or Christian crosses, no politics can be done over the headscarf, ” he noted.
He also said the proposal was a violation of human rights, stressing that it was in contradiction with parental freedom to decide on how to discipline one’s children. “We strongly condemn this announcement.”
Dr. Farid Hafez, a political scientist, said such problematic announcements originated from “an authoritarian mindset on the part of the state “.
Dr. Sonia Zaafrani, the head of the Initiative for Discrimination-Free Education (IDB), said the headscarf was not an obstacle to integration with regard to the education system.
Stressing that the headscarf ban contradicted the constitution, Zaafrani said Austria should refer to the second article of the European Convention on Human Rights, which declares that states should act in accordance with their citizens' views of the world and their religious beliefs.
Secretary General of the Vienna Islamic Federation (IFW) Harun Erciyas argues on his behalf that this school hijab ban has been brought up in order to eventually impose a complete ban on the hijab.
“Banning in the name of equality and freedom is not acceptable,” he added. He also said under the current circumstances, where most children did not wear the hijab to school, the proposal served as an agenda to paper over serious issues in the country. In Austria, where Islam has been one of the officially recognized religions since 1912, there is a population of over 600,000 Muslims, corresponding to seven percent of the population, according to figures obtained from the Vienna Islamic Federation.