Thursday, March 17, 2005

Austrian Minister Backtracks on Anti-Hijab Comment

Austrian Interior Minister Liese Prokop has backtracked on anti-hijab statements, thanks to immediate and astute action from the Muslim minority in the south-central European country. “I respect Muslim women and their right to choose their attire,” Prokop said in press statements carried by Tuesday, March 15.

She shifted her ground following a visit by a delegation led by Amina Baghajati, the media spokeswoman for the Islamic Religious Authority (IGG), the main representative body of the Muslim minority in Austria. Prokop told the state-run Falter magazine on March 8 that she strongly supported banning hijab-clad women from teaching in schools. “I consider now the legality of banning hijab in schools,” Prokop told the state-run Falter Magazine Tuesday, March 8. “But, anyhow, I will throw my weight about the ban.” Expectedly, the minister’s statements raised the ire of the Muslim minority and government officials with Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel saying Prokop was in no position to address such an issue. Muslims make up some 8 per cent of the country’s eight million population.


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