On the Contemporary Debate About the Headscarf in Austria
The aim of this paper is to trace the debates around the Muslim headscarf in Austria and the related political measures. Looking back over a period of 30 years, the changes in public opinion and in political attitudes concerning the Muslim headscarf are analysed in greater detail. The headscarf functioned as a projection screen for extremely diverse questions and attitudes and the resulting narratives are a barometer of public opinion within the majority society regarding issues like migration, women rights or Islam. At the same time, they show the need for self-assurance about personal identity in a multioptional society and the tension between secularism and the traditional Austrian cooperation model on religious matters. The paper touches on the question of equal opportunities for men and women and on the relationship between the inner-Muslim discourse and the external perspective.
Keywords: Headscarf debate • Islamic headscarf • Austria • Islamophobia • Burqa ban • Political Islam