The Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz, who at 30 is the youngest to hold such a post anywhere in the world, was criticised for his idea by Muslim groups.
Omar Al-Rawi, the chairman of the Initiative of Female Austrian Muslims (IMOe), accused conservative Kurz of wanting to "profile himself politically on the backs of Muslims."
The chairman pointed at the "inglorious role" the Austrian People’s Party minister played in proposing a uniform German translation of the Quran to combat misinterpretations that promote extremism.
He also reminded Austrians of Kurz's "agitation" against Muslim child-care centres in Vienna, which he tried to close down.
Al-Rawi said this was yet another example of the minister suggesting a "discriminatory proposal" against Muslim women in the civil service, which he stated he would challenge.
Kurz's proposal was also rejected by the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiOe), which said in a statement that such a measure would be a completely false signal and be "anti-integrative" and "discriminatory."
The organisation's president Ibrahim Olgun said: "We urgently urge the withdrawal of this move, which threatens to undermine further cooperation between the IGGiOe and the Ministry."
The organisation feared the move would "hit the emancipated and educated women and push them into the kitchen."
Yet many political leaders from different Austrian states supported Kurz’s initiative.
State Governor of Styria Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said: "We must defend our values like freedom, democracy and equal rights."
He said that not only for many Austrians, but also for many Muslims, the headscarf is a sign of non-existent equality. A ban would also serve as a role model for younger immigrants.
Governor of Vorarlberg Markus Wallner said he considered a headscarf ban for those in public service "quite conceivable", while deputy governor Thomas Stelzer from the state of Upper Austria said the plan was "fundamentally positive."
Austria has a federal government but the country is also divided into nine regions which also have considerable autonomy and the opinions of the regional governors play a key role in the direction the national parties take.
Story courtesy of Central European News