[JURIST] Austria’s ruling coalition announced [press release, in German] Monday a plan [text, PDF, in German] to ban full-face coverings in public places, with a focus on Islamic veils. The proposal is part of a set of reforms created [BBC report] after extensive negotiations by the Social Democrats and People’s party [party websites, in German]. The ban is based on the Austrian commitment to an open society, where open communication is required. The text of the plan implies that full face veils, such as the niqab and burqa, would run counter that commitment. In an interview [transcript, in German], the Vice-Chancellor suggests that the ban will mostly affect tourists, although police officers will also be prohibited from wearing head scarves.
Full-coverage veils have been the recent subject of legislation and adjudication in Europe. In December German Chancellor Angela Merkel on endorsed [JURIST report] a partial ban on burqas and niqabs, saying that “the full facial veil is inappropriate and should be banned wherever is legally possible.” Also in December the Netherlands legislature voted in favor [JURIST report] of a partial burka ban. However, in July the EU’s highest court ruled in favor [JURIST report] of a French woman who was fired for wearing a head scarf.