Austria approves of bill which bans the niqab and distribution of Quran in public

Austria's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration, Sebastian Kurz. [Credit: Sputnik]

Members of the Austrian parliament have given the green light to a new bill which outlaws the niqab and the distribution of the Quran in public.

The provisional bill which was approved on Tuesday night by both ruling parties means that Muslim women who wear the niqab can face 150-euro (£130) fines starting in October.

The measure was initially introduced by Austria’s coalition government in January as part of wider proposals aimed at countering the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.

The ban is part of a wider proposal which also prohibits the distribution of the Quran in public and obliges all migrants in Austria to participate in an “integration” year during which they take classes to learn “Austrian customs”.

That specific measure is aimed at refugees and asylum seekers who have a good chance of remaining in Austria.

Asylum seekers are also expected to commit to unpaid work under the new law.

Refugees and migrants who refuse to take part in the integration courses or public work will see their benefits axed.

The national ban on the niqab comes in light of the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ruling in March, which stated that employers are entitled to stop employees from overtly wearing religious symbols, a decision Muslims said was a direct attack on women wearing hijabs at work.

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