Hijabophobia: Austria’s Ban is Sexist and Racist

Written and illustrated by Shazmeen Khalid

Austria’s approval of banning the hijab in primary schools, a bill which passed just last Wednesday, comes as an affirmation of the growing anti-Islam sentiment in Europe. The hijab ban is inherently Islamophobic, oppressive and sexist, targeting young Muslim girls who wish to wear the hijab to primary school as well as compromising the presence of their hijab-wearing mothers.

Source: BBC

Many have been quick to point out the focalised ban, which is specific to hijab wearers, and how it is not imposed on other types of religious headwear. The ban seeks to ‘protect girls from political Islam’ and protect Austria from ‘Islamic Influences,’. However, Austria appears to overlook that in their alleged protecting they are imposing politics onto the very same little girls they are claiming to protect.

Hijab banning is not merely banning a symbol or cloth, it is banning female agency and the choice many youngsters make to claim and love their religious identities. The pioneer of the ban and previous veil bans is Sebastian Kurz, of the centre-right People’s Party, who claims that the ban is a result of a ‘phenomenon’ of hijabs in Austria. Kurz has been Chancellor of Austria since December 2017. Ironically, he was unable to comment on the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia.

The political sentiment behind Kurz seems to be deeply anti-Islamic. Law makers remarked that the ban was to be imposed on ‘ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head,’ yet the ban excludes young boys wearing the Jewish kippah or the Sikh patka, isolating Muslims, particularly female Muslims, as the cause for concern.

Kurz gives a press conference in Vienna on May 18, 2019
Source: The Japan Times

The ban gained attention under the guise of child protection and well-being, however, when coupled with the notion of banning and potentially forcing a young girl to remove an article of clothing – it becomes apparent that child well-being has not been taken into consideration in the slightest.

The prohibitionist actions have prompted protest from activists, Muslim communities and human-rights campaigners, who agree the hijab ban is reminiscent of fascist Europe and invokes an act of predicated racism onto the Muslims of Austria. Austria’s hijab ban, a clear manifestation of Hijabophobia in Europe, loads the burden of Islamophobia onto the female body and uses buzzwords like ‘oppression’ and ‘political Islam’ to vilify Muslim women and attempt to validate the sexism behind the ban.

Who is doing the oppressing?

IG & Twitter: @Shazmeeny

The Author

Shazmeen is an English graduate who now runs her own blog. Her topics often include Islamaphobia, multiculturalism and representation. Her work has been published in the Birmingham City University anthologies and in her spare time she writes poetry.

You can find her blog here.

Edited by Helena Venables

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