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A person passes posters of the right-wing Freedom party, FPOE, and the conservative Austrian People's Party, OEVP, Vienna, Austria, Oct.11, 2017 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).

‘Burqa Ban’ Marks a Hard-Line Shift in Austria’s Politics on the Eve of Elections

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017

On Oct. 15, Austrians will go to the polls to elect a new government, with all signs pointing to a rightward shift in its ruling coalition. Just two weeks before the parliamentary elections, the government put into force a new law that prohibits individuals from covering their faces in public—a not-so-subtle signal to right-wing voters of the government’s stance on Muslims and the full-body burqa and other coverings worn by some Muslim women. In an email interview, Stefan Lehne, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe and former director general of political affairs at the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs, explains what was behind the new law, how much resonance it will have among the voting public, and what it means for Austria’s acceptance of Muslims.

WPR: What are the origins of the “burqa ban” in Austria and how prevalent are such face coverings? ...

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