Posted on July 3, 2014

Austrian Parliament to Discuss Banning the Burka After European Court of Human Rights Upholds French Rules . . . And Norway and Denmark Could Follow Suit

Chris Pleasance, Daily Mail (London), July 3, 2014

Politicians in Austria are set to introduce a motion to ban burkas after the European Court of Human Rights upheld French rules barring people from covering their face in public.

Members of Austria’s Freedom Party could put the motion before parliament as early as next week, while MPs from the Danish People’s Party and Norway’s Labour and Progress parties are considering similar plans.

On Tuesday the ECHR ruled that a French ban on wearing full-face veils in public did not breach human rights as it didn’t specifically target Muslims.

Members of Austria’s Freedom Party added that there was no compulsion in Islam to wear a full-face veil, and so any ban would not constitute an attack on religious freedoms.

Freedom Party spokeswoman Carmen Gartelgruber told The Local that in the ‘wide, conservative circles of Islamic immigration society’, the opinion prevails that women are second-class citizens.

One of the many instruments for oppressing women is the burka, she added.

In Denmark a ban was last discussed between 2009 and 2010 but was quickly shot down in the belief that the European Court would rule against it.

But now Martin Henriksen, a member of the anti-immigration People’s Party, says the legal framework for a ban has been laid down.

He told Politiken: ‘[A ban] would send the signal that we do not accept parallel societies and isolation. We see [the burka] as a rejection of Danish society.

‘It is a sign that one wishes to distance themselves from the rest of society.’

Meanwhile the Labour and Progress parties in Norway welcomed the ban, and suggested they may also raise the issue again.

Former Labour Party leader Thorbjørn Jagland said the judgement was positive, and recognised that hiding behind a veil meant other members of your community struggled to relate to you.

A law banning full-face veils was rejected by the country’s parliament just last year over concerns the ECHR would reject it.

But despite the new ruling, politicians in Norway admit that any new proposition is unlikely to pass as public opinion seems to be against such a law.

France’s parliament passed a burka ban in 2010, leading to protests from Islamic groups who said it was discriminatory.

However on Tuesday judges said that the measure aimed at stopping women covering their faces in public was entirely justified.

They said that the right of ordinary people to ‘live together’ was a ‘legitimate objective’, and that Muslim women wearing face coverings threatened it.

Belgium and parts of Switzerland have also introduced bans, and similar ones are being considered in Italy and Holland.

Plans for one in Britain have also been mooted by backbench MPs and other politicians, including members of the UK Independence Party.