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Kurz's proposal on headscarf ban draws reaction of Austrian Muslims

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Sebastian Kurz has promised to ban headscarfs for secondary school students and teachers if he wins. Austria is home to around 800,000 Muslims and this election promise has stirred discomfort among the society. Ümit Vural -- the chairman of IGGO -- told reporters that freedom of religion has been guaranteed by the laws of the country and a headscarf ban is unacceptable.

Austrians have reacted to former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's proposed headscarf ban as an election promise as political fever before the Sept. 29 general elections is running high in the country.

Kurz, chairman of the Austrian People's Party who is known for his Islamophobic stance, has promised to ban headscarfs for secondary school students and teachers if he wins.

According to current public opinion polls, Kurz's party will receive 35% of the vote and form a coalition government.

Austria is home to around 800,000 Muslims and this election promise has stirred discomfort among the society.

Chairman of Austrian Muslim Society (IGGO) Ümit Vural told Anadolu Agency that freedom of religion has been guaranteed by the laws of the country and a headscarf ban is unacceptable.

Vural said a headscarf is a religious obligation for Muslim women and cannot be part of political debate.

Sonia Zaafrani, head of think-tank Initiative for Discrimination-Free Education, said arguments on the headscarf aim to declare a religious act as a crime.

"A lot of research conducted in recent years indicate that Muslim minority suffers the most discrimination in Austria among the European countries," she said.

Zaafrani said a headscarf ban is against human rights and it is unacceptable to link wearing a headscarf with political Islam.

Author and activist Wilhelm Langthaler also said that Kurz is trying to bring the headscarf and migration issue on top of the agenda in order to hide social and economic problems.

"There needs to be stronger efforts in order to protect basic rights such as freedom of religion and freedom of thought," he added.

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