Austria to ban full-face veil in public places

As part of its reform programme, the governing coalition of Austria has agreed to ban the full-face veil in public spaces such as schools and courts. 

The ban was agreed by the coalition (formed of the Social Democratic Party of Austria and the Austrian People’s party) and will prohibit the wearing of veils which cover most of the face, such as the Muslim burka or niqab, in public spaces. It will be implemented in the next 18 months.

Police officers, judges, magistrates and public prosecutors will also be prohibited from wearing headscarves, in the interest of appearing ‘ideologically and religiously neutral’.

Austria joins France and Belgium, who imposed a ban on wearing burkas in 2011. Last month, German chancellor Angela Merkel also said that the burka should be prohibited in public spaces ‘wherever legally possible’.

The UK does not ban burkas or niqabs.

The Austrian Coalition stated:

“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” .