Austria on Tuesday took the first steps towards a ban on full-face veils in public, as the cabinet presented amendments to the country’s integration laws.
Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz told reporters after the cabinet meeting that the ban will be part of a policy package containing mostly restrictive measures that should foster integration of migrants.
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 Koran in public, as a way to prevent the spread of extremist views.
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,” Kurz said.
Asylum seekers who do not participate in these programmes will have their welfare payments reduced.