Austrian politicians announced plans to introduce a new law over the summer that would ban hijabs in schools for girls under 10-years-old.
Austria’s coalition government pledged Wednesday to deliver a draft of the bill by Summer of 2018 to protect kindergarten and elementary school girls. The coalition will help the kids integrate into Austrian culture and society, according to ABC. The bill comes as a response to what Freedom party and the Austrian People’s Party members see as the threat of “political Islam” in Austria.
“Our goal is to confront any development of parallel societies in Austria,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, according to BBC.
Legislators referred to the upcoming law as the “child protection law.” The legislation will be a “symbolic act” signifying Austria’s resistance to the influences of Islamic culture that do not align with Austrian culture, lawmakers said.
Austria’s Muslim community decried the news of the planned law, saying it was unnecessary and would not truly protect children.
“This initiative is not truly about taking care of children and being concerned about their well-being. It is more or less another symbolic action taken by policy to signal a broader public, to say, we are in control when it comes to the Islam issue,” Austria’s Islamic Religious Community spokeswoman Carla Amina Baghajati said, according to ABC.
Rising numbers of girls in kindergarten and elementary school wearing hijabs is a “growing phenomenon,” Kurz claimed. However, wearing a hijab is rare for girls of that age in the Muslim community, since Muslim girls usually start wearing hijabs as teenagers, Baghajati said.
Austria became the fifth European country to ban full face veils in 2017 as part of an integration law meant to promote Austrian culture among immigrants and asylum seekers. The other four are Germany, Belgium, France and Bulgaria.
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