National Security

Austria Bans Burqas, Says All Immigrants Must Take German Language and Culture Classes

Austria takes bold new steps to improve resettlement efforts

In an effort to help with integration, Austria’s parliament has passed a law that will prohibit the wearing of burqas. Violators will be subject to a 150 Euro fine (roughly $170). It will go into effect in October, effectively banning Islamic burqas. While some have argued that the law is discriminatory, only full-face coverings will be outlawed. This does not include hijabs, the headscarves that only cover the hair and neck.

Another argument against the law deals with prohibiting all religions who cover their full face. I don’t see how that would be an issue. If the law applies to everyone within Austria, wouldn’t it cover all religions? I am no expert on religion, but I am also unaware of any other religions that require a person’s entire face to be covered. It sounds like just another complaint without offering a solution.

Protestors took to the Vienna streets to oppose the proposals, stating that such a ban would hinder a woman’s right to move freely, wearing what she so desires. According to some, the law is discriminatory because it targets a specific group of women.

Alexander Van der Bellen, the president of Austria, has even expressed disapproval, saying, “It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants.” Part of a draft text of the law reads that “those who are not prepared to accept Enlightenment values will have to leave our country and society.” The bill finds itself part of integration policies being mandated in Austria. Many believe that measures such as banning burqas and requiring courses on German language, job applications, and Austrian values are necessary for immigrants to have a decent chance of gaining asylum and becoming a productive member of society.

A line of Syrian refugees crossing the border of Hungary and Austria on their way to Germany. Hungary, Central Europe, 6 September 2015.

Austria was recently given a talking to by the European Union for failing to resettle a single refugee. The refugee crisis in Europe has brought with it many challenges, including instances of terrorism being imported into countries, as well as recruiting. Refugees have set up their own camps within cities like Paris, creating health and safety risks on a large scale.

Most of the refugees pouring into Europe are men. This begs the question: why aren’t they fighting for their country? Austria has taken steps to protect its citizens by passing bills that address these concerns. It is not completely unheard of to expect visitors of a country to abide by the laws and cultural norms. The threats facing Europe today are serious and as such must be taken seriously.

Austria isn’t the only country to prohibit burqas. Belgium, France, and the Netherlands are three other European countries with similar bans already in place. These countries deal with more issues than the United States in terms of terrorist threats at the moment because of the influx of refugees. Open borders have created many problems that Austria is attempting to find solutions for. They don’t want a large population of immigrants collecting benefits without putting in some type of effort.

Angelina Newsom

Angelina Newsom is an OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. She has ten years experience in the military, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She studies Criminal Justice and is still active within the military community.

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