Muslim women Austria worried about headscarf ban for teachers


Central Europe


A woman wearing a headscarf leaves a polling station during general elections in Vienna, Austria. Photo AFP, Joe Klamar

Muslim women in Austria are concerned about a possible headscarf ban for female teachers. A side letter to the Austrian government mentioned it as a supplementary agreement.

The side letter states that “in the sphere of activity of the Ministry of Education, a headscarf ban for female teachers will be introduced by decree during the legislative period.”

Several newspapers reported that the headscarf ban was a secret agreement between the coalition partners ÖVP and the Greens. The Greens are said to have agreed on a headscarf ban for teachers and were promised an ORF post in return, Islamiq writes.

The Greens, however, say that they still oppose the headscarf ban. Vice-Chancellor and party leader Werner Kogler tries to nuance the statement by saying it has no real meaning. “We successfully negotiated that away. It is de facto a nullum”, he told the coalition partner via Im Zentrum on ORF, der Standard reports.

Also, the education spokeswoman for the Greens, Sibylle Hamann, assures Muslim women that the statement is entirely irrelevant. “It was clear to everyone that such a ministerial decree would not go through.”

The ÖVP says that the headscarf ban is no priority for the coalition at this time. “The top priority is currently combating the pandemic and the gradual return to normality in schools and universities”, Education Minister Martin Polasheck says.

The side letter led to irritation by several Green members, among whom the former Green leader Birgit Hebein. “That this appears in a side letter is new to me. It is irritating that substantive positions were negotiated via the side letter and neither participants of the negotiation team nor delegates of the federal congress were present”, she says to der Standard.



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