Nearly 1,000 people demonstrated in Vienna against the Austrian government’s plans to bar people from wearing the Islamic full-face veil in public places.
The march on Saturday, in which the protesters carried signs with slogans denouncing the proposed ban, proceeded through the centre of Vienna and ended in front of the square where the Foreign Ministry building is located, Efe news reports.
The demonstration was organised by several Austrian Muslim associations, and most of the participants were women.
One of the organisers said they were against the Islamic veil ban because they opposed the exclusion of Muslims from society. She added that a woman should not be excluded from public office because she wears a hijab (Islamic headscarf).
The Austrian government, made up of a coalition of the Social Democratic and Austrian People’s parties, this week released a document expressing their plans to ban the full-face veil in public places.
The document also said civil servants in uniform should refrain from wearing Islamic headscarves and limit their use of religious symbols to ensure the state presents itself in a religiously neutral manner.
The government intends to secure parliamentary approval for these measures over the next 18 months, or prior to the end of the current legislative session.
Some 600,000 Muslims live in Austria, with people of Turkish origin making up the largest community.