Kurz against headscarves for children

Austria's government is planning to introduce a ban on headscarves in kindergartens and elementary schools. Chancellor Kurz said the move was aimed at preventing "parallel societies". Is this pure populism or a sensible contribution to the emancipation of girls?

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Heavy-handed fear-mongering

For the Süddeutsche Zeitung the announcement is just another example of the Austrian coalition government's PR-driven symbolic politics:

“The argument being used to justify the move is that it protects children and defends the right of girls to develop their personalities free of constraints. But behind it is a barely concealed heavy-handed attempt to fuel fears of Islamism and excessive foreign infiltration. ... Even the education minister must admit that no one knows how many children actually wear headscarves. In accordance with established Islamic doctrine, girls only cover their hair on reaching puberty. Apparently the government is unwilling to believe the people - and itself - are capable of making such distinctions.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Solidarity with liberal Muslims

A ban on headscarves in kindergartens and primary schools is long overdue, Die Presse argues:

“Here too, it is right that the state is stipulating the framework - and binding rules. And setting limits for the type of parental authority that forces little girls to wear a headscarf for religious reasons. Because of course there can be no talk of a truly free decision at that age. ... As a result one can see a ban on headscarves in another light: as a sign of solidarity with those Muslims, actually a sizeable number, who also view - and reject - the headscarf as an archaic and stigmatising relict. As a support for all the girls who could then point to the regulation and be spared the stress of a discussion at home about whether or not they should wear the headscarf.”