Austria takes steps to ban niqab veils, handing out copies of the Quran in public

Published 28.03.2017 00:00
Updated 28.03.2017 15:56

Austria took the first steps Tuesday towards a ban on full-face veils in public, as the cabinet presented amendments to the country's integration laws.

The ban would be part of a policy package containing mostly restrictive measures that should foster integration of migrants, according to the centrist government.

Although the number of women wearing such dress is still very small in Austria, niqab veils - which only reveal a woman's eyes - have become more visible in Vienna's immigrant districts in recent years.

The government also decided that Salafist Muslim groups will no longer be allowed to hand out copies of the Quran in public.

In addition, asylum seekers who have a high chance of being recognized as refugees will have to take part in community service and German language courses.

"That's the only way that people can earn the respect of the majority population," Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

Asylum seekers who do not participate in these programmes will have their welfare payments reduced.

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