Austrian government moves to ban full-face veil

"We are committed to an open society, which also presupposes open communication".

That system was in place provisionally from 2004 to 2011 after many former Communist countries joined the bloc, and Kern has said he wants to push for Brussels to allow its reintroduction.

The ban applies to the burka and niqab that cover the entire face or only leave open space for the eyes. "A full-face veil in public places stands in its way and will therefore be banned", the coalition announced.

The order, which took two lines of a 35-page report by the Social Democratic and Austrian People's parties on their vision for the country's future, is mean to contain the rise of the far-right Freedom Party, CNN reported.

The president of Austria's Islamic Community, Ibrahim Olgun, criticised the proposed ban, saying it would "pull the rug" under efforts to create a good working relationship between the government and the Muslim community.

A ban of the full face veil has been place in France and Belgium since 2011, the Netherlands introduced a partial ban in 2015, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, endorsed her party's call to ban the full face veil "wherever it is legally possible" past year.

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The ban requires the approval of the Austrian Parliament before it can be enforced.

Carla Amina Baghajati, women's affairs spokeswoman for the Islamic Religious Authority in Austria, the country's official Muslim authority, told VICE News the move would only channel rising populist resentment at Muslims by symbolically subjugating Muslim women.

"The full-face veil will be banned in public spaces", Chancellor Christian Kern said after the week-long negotiations over the issue concluded, adding that the ban will be implemented over the next 18 months. 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.

Austria is set to ban wearing full-face veils in public, joining Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, and Switzerland, who also have approved similar bans.

France became the first European country to ban the full-face veil officially in 2010.

  • Regina Walsh