No minister with headscarf says presidential hopeful

The Local Austria
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No minister with headscarf says presidential hopeful
Muslim women in London. Garry Knight/Creative Commons.

The presidential candidate of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) has said if he were to win he would not swear in women wearing headscarves as ministers or appoint them as judges.


Norbert Hofer, who is hoping to be voted in as Austria’s next president when the public take to the polls on April 24th, made the remarks in an interview with the ORF this week.

Hofer cited the ‘oppression of women’ as the reason why he would not swear in a woman wearing a headscarves to some of the top positions in Austria.

“For me, the burka is a symbol of the oppression of women and likewise the headscarf,” he said, adding that any potential ban would only apply in the public domain.

“What someone does at home, is obviously another matter,” he added.

Constitutional legal expert Bernd-Christian Funk has said, however, that the refusal of a President to appoint women as ministers or judges because they wear headscarves would be “unlawful”.

FPÖ have previously spoken in favour of banning headscarves in public spaces, with the now leader Heinz-Christian Strache demanding such a ban back in 2006.

Funk, speaking to the Kurier, said however: “A complete headscarf ban in public spaces is incompatible with a number of legal safeguards, such as freedom of religion."

He also argued that the Constitutional Court would be likely to throw out an attempt by government ban headscarves.

Veil bans in other countries

Bans on full-face veils in public spaces have been introduced in some other countries in Europe, such as France and Belgium. In France headscarves - and other conspicuous religious items such as crosses - have also been banned from schools.

Other countries, including Great Britain and Spain, have not introduced any national bans on wearing full-face veils or headscarves, with critics of such bans saying it violates religious freedom.

Many supporters of full-veil bans say they are necessary for security reasons and to encourage a cohesive society.

In Turkey the ban on female judges and prosecutors wearing headscarves was lifted last year and in December a judge wearing a headscarf conducted a trial first the first time in the country.


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