11 Apr 2018

Feminists divided over Austria's headscarf ban

As the Austrian government debates a possible headscarf ban in kindergartens and elementary schools, activists take opposing stands. Even among Muslim feminists, the headscarf is divisive.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Feminists divided over Austria's headscarf ban - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Too often, the headscarf debate is dominated by the voices of white, Christian men. This is why Der Standard editor-in-chief, Beate Hausbichler, has interviewed two female Muslim activists with opposing views on the matter.

Lawyer, author and supporter of the ban Seyran Ateş believes that Western feminists display a certain level of hypocrisy when it comes to the headscarf for Muslim girls.

“While feminists fight for equal rights and self-determination in their own community, they allow for archaic practices and sexism in Muslim culture,” she claims.

Ateş perceives the headscarf as a way of sexualizing girls. She sees it as a hindrance in their daily lives, one that changes the way they move and behave.

Educator and Islamic scholar, Kevser Muratovic, on the other hand, is suspicious of the motives of politicians and believes a ban would not help the girls involved.

"Through these discussions, we challenge 'white feminism' to question its own racism,” she adds.

Is the headscarf an expression of the right to self-determination or is it a patriarchal tool? Will banning it lead to emancipation or is it just another way of controlling women's bodies? Obviously, burning questions remain, even in feminist circles.

education, religion, politics, gender, women's issues

Details from the story:

  • Last week, during a press conference Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Vice-Chancellor Heinz Christian Strache announced their intention to ban the headscarf for girls under 10 years old. The "child protection law" will be drawn up later this year, as a "symbolic act" in protecting Austrian culture from Islamic influences, they stated.
  • Seyran Ateş is a lawyer, author and feminist. She founded a liberal mosque in Berlin, where women do not wear headscarves and gay imams are welcome. Ateş has receive numerous death threats because of her views. In 2006, she demanded a headscarf ban in primary schools and day-care centers.
  • Kevser Muratovic studied Education, Islamic Studies and Public Law in Tübingen and Vienna. She is an adult education teacher and author. She specializes in migrant integration.
So what DOES happen when women choose the news? - NewsMavens
Gazeta Wyborcza

So what DOES happen when women choose the news?

Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna ZiomeckaGazeta Wyborcza, Europe
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
Google DNI
SUPPORTED BY:
Women in news
World Editors Forum
STRATEGIC PARTNERS:
NewsMavens
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
CORE TEAM
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy