Austrian ministers have announced their plan to ban headscarves in elementary schools and kindergartens across the country with a "Children Protection Act.” Education Minister Heinz Fassmann announced that the new legislation will be a "symbolic" act, regardless how many girls are to follow the new rule. The draft of the law is to be ready by the summer holiday, according to the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, representing the center-right People's Party (ÖVP).
The country’s leader stated in the joint press conference with fellow ministers that all children in Austria should have the same opportunities, saying, "It also means that there should be no discrimination at a young age … all children, boys and girls should have the same rights.”
The proposal is also backed by Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, who is also the boss of the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). He claimed that girls "under the age of 10 must be protected" and be able to "integrate and develop freely."
The joint commitment of Kurz’s ÖVP and FPÖ is not enough, as the law can be adopted only by the constitutional majority, so the two parties have to sway the opposition parties to this decision.
However, it’s still unclear how many girls will be affected by the legislation. According to the Kurier newspaper, neither the government nor experts in the field could say how many girls under 10 currently wear headscarves.
The proposal is questioned on Twitter, as users are unsure about its purpose.
Kann mir bitte jemand sagen, wieviel % der muslimischen Kinder zwischen 3 und 10 in Kiga und Schule Kopftuch tragen? Und wieviele sind es in absoluten Zahlen?#Kopftuchverbot— Nadine (@Rapunzel_1977) 4 апреля 2018 г.
Can somebody tell me what percent of Muslim children between 3 and 10 wear hijabs? And how many in the exact numbers?
Der Verbot eines Stück Stoffs ist purer Populismus und wird nichts ändern! Ihr wollt das sich die Mädchen besser entwickeln @sebastiankurz? Gebt mehr Geld für Bildung aus, bestärkt ihr Selbstvertrauen, entlohnt sie gleich, gebt ihnen Perspektiven!— Edge (@theEdge1983) 4 апреля 2018 г.
A ban on a cloth is populism, which changes nothing. If you want to educate the girls better, give more money for education, promote their self-confidence, provide for them, give them perspectives!
y‘all are stupid for thinking you‘re allowed to tell CHILDREN what to wear in ❗️ kindergarten & primary school ❗️ nice to know that‘s what we consider issues. wake up. #Kopftuchverbot— donghyuck is the sun (@callmefijis) 4 апреля 2018 г.
I’m curious, what the law would exactly state. Should the toddlers put such handkerchiefs away?
Half a year ago Austria banned face veils, forbidding full coverage with clothing in public places. The new rule, targeting those wearing burqas and niqabs, was proclaimed to help integrate Muslims. Those who are caught wearing them can be charged $185. According to the Welt newspaper, about 50 people have been charged over six months.