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Anorak | When it’s ok to be anti-Semitic and wear a headscarf

When it’s ok to be anti-Semitic and wear a headscarf

by | 1st, May 2017

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen – the final ‘d’ is silent, so I’ll leave it off – says all Austrian women should wear a headscarf. This will help Muslims feel comfortable and to battle prejudice, he reasons.

“If Islamophobia continues to spread,” he told a room full of students, “the day will come when we will have to ask all women to wear headscarves. All of them, in solidarity with those who [wear them] for religious reasons. This isn’t too far-fetched.”

Van der Bellen continued, adding that he remembered a story about some non-Jewish Danes wearing the Star of David during the German occupation of Denmark in World War II.

Alex, mate, they did that to counter the censors, bigots, meddlers and murderers not because they were forced to on pain of law. Wearing a Star of David when it could get you abused, raped and killed by the invaders’ enforcers is an act of bravery. If you force people to wear the veil and view those courageous Danes as your inspiration, you will celebrate freedom by doing exactly the opposite. And as for reducing a symbol of conservative religious beliefs to a sign of your own liberal views, well, good luck with that.

The Washington Post adds:

The Austrian president seems to have been surprised by the scandal. “We should be happy if we don’t have bigger problems than the question of the headscarf,” he told reporters during a visit to Slovakia this week. “I am not a friend of the headscarf, but there is freedom of expression in Austria.”

Not always. The JTA reports:

An Austrian woman who questioned the Holocaust was found guilty of violating an Austrian law that makes Holocaust denial illegal.

The woman, 53, was given a suspended jail sentence and fined $1,280 by a court in the western Austrian city of Feldkirch on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

She criticized a post on Facebook which showed a German soccer team commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi camp, in which she accused the team of “spreading lies,” according to the AP.

During a search of her home a sign was discovered over her toilet reading: “This Hitlerine needs a clean latrine.” It also is illegal in Austria to praise the Nazi era.

Nasty. False. But to criminalise an expression of bigotry that makes liars of the millions murdered and praises their killers suggests Austrian lawmakers do not have much faith in their own people to hold ignorance and racism up to the light. Bellen is wrong, then. Freedom of expression is not sacrosanct in Austria.

Undeterred, Bellen moved on:

In a statement posted to his Facebook page, the president’s office attempted to explain the context of his statement, noting that a student had asked about whether a ban on headscarves would shut some women out of the labor market.

The president was talking about “the stigma of headscarved women,” the statement said, and the president did agree that in some specific circumstances a headscarf might be prohibited but that other religious symbols should be prohibited, too, in those circumstances. The president was also concerned about “racism from the other side,” the statement said, pointing to the example of a Muslim cabdriver who refuses to accept Orthodox Jews as passengers.

Racism from the other side? No, it’s just racism.

Such are the facts.



Posted: 1st, May 2017 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink