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Vienna - 'Burqa Ban' Law Signals Rightward Political Turn In Austria

Published on: September 30, 2017 11:30 PM
By: AP
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Carla Amina Baghajati from the Austrian Islamic religious community gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)Carla Amina Baghajati from the Austrian Islamic religious community gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Vienna - A law prohibiting any kind of full-face covering, known popularly as the “Burqa Ban,” takes effect Sunday in Austria, where the strong support for it portends potential political upheaval in the upcoming national election.

Parties campaigning on an anti-migrant message are poised to win on Oct. 15 and to form a coalition government. Such a rightward swing in a country that’s had centrist governments almost consistently since World War II could have repercussions across Europe, emboldening politicians who take a hard line on Islam and immigration.

Last week, the right-wing, anti-migrant Alternative for Germany party won seats in Germany’s national parliament for the first time after featuring posters with the slogan “Burqas? We prefer bikinis” in its campaign.

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The Austrian law — called “Prohibition for the Covering of the Face” — forbids off-slope ski masks, surgical masks outside hospitals and party masks in public. Violations carry a possible fine of 150 euros (nearly $180) and police are authorized to use force with people who resist showing their faces.

But its popular name reflects the most prevalent association — the garments some Muslim women wear to conceal their whole faces and bodies. The garments are rare in Austria even after the recent surge of migrants into Europe. Support for the law is strong nonetheless, reflecting anti-Muslim attitudes in the predominantly Catholic country.

“It’s not right that those living here don’t show their faces,” said Emma Schwaiger, who expressed support for the ban in a straw poll on the streets of Vienna.

Five in seven of those who said they backed the law also said they will vote for the two parties that critics link to anti-Muslim sentiment — the traditionally xenophobic Freedom Party and the People’s Party. The People’s Party avoids the Freedom Party’s inflammatory talk, but has swung radically from the center under new leader Sebastian Kurz to echo that party’s positions on migration.

The Social Democratic Party, currently the majority partner in the government coalition with the People’s Party, has been left struggling.

Under Chancellor Christian Kern, the Social Democrats are focusing on social topics and claiming credit for Austria’s recent economic upturn. But Kern’s message is not coming across well.

A Unique Research poll of 1,500 respondents published Thursday showed the Social Democrats with 27 percent support, ahead of the Freedom Party at 25 percent but trailing the People’s Party with 34 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

Previously associated with stagnation and lack of direction, the People’s Party was trailing in third place until Kurz, Austria’s telegenic 31-year old foreign minister, took leadership in May after securing party pledges of full authority.

He already was known Europe-wide for shutting down the West Balkans route into the prosperous EU heartland for migrants. With early elections set after the breakup of the coalition with the Social Democrats, he rapidly remade the party in his own image.

Although the People’s Party was part of the government coalition that opened its borders to more than 100,000 migrants in 2015, the party now says that “the political establishment failed in dealing with the refugee crisis.”

Calling for zero illegal immigration, he says migrants intercepted on the high seas should be shipped to refugee centers in North Africa instead of Europe. Migrants waiting for a decision on their asylum applications should be forced to work menial jobs in exchange for pocket money. And instead of the normal six-year waiting period for Austrian citizenship, those receiving asylum should wait for 10 years, he says.

Kurz has something else in his favor for an electorate disaffected with the status quo. “He was able — even though he was in government for more than six years — to present himself as the ‘change guy,’” said Thomas Hofer, a political analyst.

He now campaigns as the head of “Sebastian Kurz List.” Posters with his image mention the People’s Party as an afterthought. Turquoise has replaced the party’s official color of black.

Kurz also attracts Austrians who support the Freedom Party and its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, on migration, but dislike the radical way they frame the debate. Kurz, says Hofer, “uses a different kind of language, and it’s not extreme language — it’s plain talk.”

Kurz has pledged that the face-cover ban will be rigorously enforced. But Hofer dismisses the law as a “symbolic issue.” Muslim women leaders see as insincere the claim the law is intended to help oppressed women.

Carla Amina Bhagajati of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria said the “handful” of fully veiled women she knows of in Vienna “now are criminalized and ... restricted to their homes.”

“This open society is, in a hypocritical way, endangering its own values,” she said.



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Read Comments (16)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 30, 2017 at 11:43 PM Cancer upon unmoderate Muslims Says:

Good this is great for Jews may all these right wing anti Muslim parties continue to spread across Europe so that Jews don't end up like those in Paris

2

 Oct 01, 2017 at 01:31 AM Cancer upon unmoderate Muslims Says:

Good this is great for Jews may all these right wing anti Muslim parties continue to spread across Europe so that Jews don't end up like those in Paris

3

 Oct 01, 2017 at 03:37 AM Anonymous Says:

Streimel next.

4

 Oct 01, 2017 at 09:50 AM realist Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Streimel next.

seriously? how many streimel wearing hasidim do u see blowing up people.

the burqa is the perfect cover for concieling an identity and contrband.

5

 Oct 01, 2017 at 10:02 AM Just saying Says:

Your paranoid. Get a grip.
Muslim invasion in Europe not good.
(Not that I care about Europe, can’t forgive what they did to the yidden).

6

 Oct 01, 2017 at 10:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Streimel next.

Um, no. The arab shmattahs cover the face and are a security risk. A shrteimel does not, so no.

7

 Oct 01, 2017 at 11:01 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

Is there some problem with lady's dressing as they like?

8

 Oct 01, 2017 at 10:25 AM common-sense Says:

Reply to #1  
Cancer upon unmoderate Muslims Says:

Good this is great for Jews may all these right wing anti Muslim parties continue to spread across Europe so that Jews don't end up like those in Paris

It's great for Jews? Ridiculous. Once they started banning religious dress, they could ban yarmulkes or other religious dress. This is definitely not good for Jews. Especially in Austria, where Nazism still lives on.

9

 Oct 01, 2017 at 11:06 AM Cancer Upon Immoderate Muslims Says:

Nope shtriemel is not next. bad analogy.

1) Burkas represent a religon that spreads hate and wishes death upon westerners. Shriemels do not
2)Burkas violate a womens rights. Its muslim connotaion is you must wear a burka and the man is the boss of the house. Ots OK for the man to beat and abuse his wife, have multiple wives etc... while the women must stay modest for him. Shtreimels or tichels do not have that same meaning.

10

 Oct 01, 2017 at 11:07 AM rebbeice Says:

Bring the ban to the USA it would help stop ANTIFA.
Bring it to Israel it would help catch the rock throwers.
"COVERING YOUR FACE MARKS YOU AS A CRIMINAL AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH !!"

11

 Oct 01, 2017 at 12:11 PM common-sense Says:

Reply to #9  
Cancer Upon Immoderate Muslims Says:

Nope shtriemel is not next. bad analogy.

1) Burkas represent a religon that spreads hate and wishes death upon westerners. Shriemels do not
2)Burkas violate a womens rights. Its muslim connotaion is you must wear a burka and the man is the boss of the house. Ots OK for the man to beat and abuse his wife, have multiple wives etc... while the women must stay modest for him. Shtreimels or tichels do not have that same meaning.

Not all muslims spread hate. Of course, we have to be wary of Muslims because the great majority of them hate Jews. However, this is not a reason to ban burkas for all Muslims. Jewish dress could be next.

As for your second reason, it is not the government's business as to how Muslims feel about women's rights. It is a private matter unless the law is violated. There is no law that tells people who should be the boss of the house.

12

 Oct 01, 2017 at 02:48 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Cancer upon unmoderate Muslims Says:

Good this is great for Jews may all these right wing anti Muslim parties continue to spread across Europe so that Jews don't end up like those in Paris

Thank G D he doesnt listen to people like u. Curse ur life away. Despicable!

13

 Oct 01, 2017 at 08:51 PM AmYisroel Says:

More AP fake news leftwing france has a burqa ban

14

 Oct 01, 2017 at 08:32 PM Cancer upon immoderate Muslims Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

Thank G D he doesnt listen to people like u. Curse ur life away. Despicable!

You don't ask Hashem for the same ? Didn't you daven selichos . If you did you asked Hashem to destroy esav and yoshmael in those selichos .

15

 Oct 01, 2017 at 10:46 PM common-sense Says:

Not all Moslems are Arabs (Yishmeaylim). There are millions of Moslems who are not Arabs. They are from countries such as Pakistan, India, Turkey, Bosnia (which is in Europe), Azerbijan (which is very friendly to Israel and Jews) and other countries in Asia (including millions of Chinese Moslems) and Africa.

16

 Oct 02, 2017 at 08:30 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
common-sense Says:

Not all Moslems are Arabs (Yishmeaylim). There are millions of Moslems who are not Arabs. They are from countries such as Pakistan, India, Turkey, Bosnia (which is in Europe), Azerbijan (which is very friendly to Israel and Jews) and other countries in Asia (including millions of Chinese Moslems) and Africa.

You are wasting your time with the ignorant trumpis

17

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