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Austria bans veil in public places

Austria bans veil in public placesAustria's governing coalition has agreed to prohibit full-face veils in courts, schools and other "public places" as part of a package of reforms agreed on Monday.

The center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) agreed late Monday on the government’s reform plan, which focuses on job creation, economic growth and education, despite the prospect political in-fighting would prompt early elections.

The plan includes new security measures that will tighten controls on asylum seekers, though the SPÖ initially refused to back them, and an integration package spearheaded by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, which calls for added funding for German language and integration classes and a burqa ban.

The coalition also agreed to ban police officers, judges and magistrates and public prosecutors from wearing head scarves in the interest of appearing "ideologically and religiously neutral" while serving the state.

Prohibiting “anti-social symbols” such as the burqa will help Austria “better integrate those migrants who are allowed to stay,” Kurz said in a video statement, adding he was glad the SPÖ had “finally” agreed to the deal.

A new 35-page document also says that migrants granted the right to stay in Austria will be forced to sign an "integration contract" and a "statement of values".

Many of the measures set out in the programme must be hammered out in detail and receive parliamentary approval before they can come into force.
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