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Austria Moves To Ban Full-Face Veils In Public

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The Austrian government is on its way to banning people from wearing full face covering veils in public.

The ban, which is meant to target Muslims, was put forth by Austrian political parties to counter the far-right Freedom Party, reported the BBC, and will need approval from the Austrian parliament before it becomes law.

"We are committed to an open society, which also presupposes open communication," said a document explaining the ban, according to UPI. "Full-face veils in public places are the opposite of that and will be banned."

The document added that the law is meant for the state to present itself "in a world-open and religiously neutral manner."

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said the veil ban is actually mean to make Muslims be more included in Austrian society and is meant to avoid giving "600,000 Muslims in Austria the feeling that they are not part of our society."

Only around 150 people in Austria actually wear a full-face veil, according to the BBC. And Muslims in the country said a law that targets such a small minority of the population is discriminatory.

"It is saddening. This is a setback for Austria, for our democracy and for our understanding of diversity," said Amani Abu Zahra, a professor in the Islamic religion department at the University for Teacher Education of Christian Churches.

Tarafa Baghajati, chair of the Austrian Muslim Initiative, said that even though he personally disagrees with full-face veils, he believes a ban is "counterproductive."

"This is state-run discrimination against Muslim women that violates the constitution and anti-discrimination laws," he said.

Sources: BBC, UPI / Photo credit: Nitin Madhav/USAID/Wikimedia Commons

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