Austria’s education minister announced this week that the Austrian government is drafting a headscarf ban for girls under the age of 10 as part of a forced integration plan.
Heinz Fassmann said the law, which will reportedly go into effect this summer, was made with the intent of helping little girls "integrate and develop freely."
"We want all girls in Austria to have the same opportunities," Fassmann said, according to local reports.
Austrian officials have explained the law is a “symbolic act” to show the government’s intent of avoiding "parallel societies" within the nation, admitting the law will likely have no great direct effect as very few young girls currently wear headscarves in the country’s public schools and most Muslim women don’t don head coverings until puberty.
That aside, the intended symbolism is pretty clear. Austria’s move comes as many Western European countries are grappling with how to deal with the recent influx of Middle Eastern migrants, an almost overnight smashing of two very distinct – and often diametrically opposed – cultures.
The Local reports Austria itself has taken in more than 150,000 refugees, a large number for a country with a 8.7 million population, even less than that of New York City.
Germany, which took in more than 1 million refugees, is struggling under a dramatic rise in migrant crime, the creation of no-go zones where their own citizens no longer feel safe.
The U.K. is dealing with a recent rise in stabbings and acid attacks, with their own delivery men saying there are certain migrant-dominated areas in the city they won’t visit after a certain time of night out of fear for their safety.
In 2010, France passed a law banning the wearing of headscarves in public places over public safety concerns. Australia has considered doing the same. Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain also have laws banning or restricting face coverings in public.
(Cover Photo: Biswarup Ganguly)