University bans veils

Bosses at a Styrian university have decided to forbid wearing veils, it has emerged.Managers of the Medical University of Graz (MUG) decided today (Thurs) to prohibit wearing veils that disguise women’s faces in seminars and exams.MUG vice director Gilbert Reibnegger stressed however that students would still be allowed to wear veils in lectures. He stressed the new ruling had no political background but was “purely based on pragmatic reasons”.Reibnegger said there were just a few female students wearing veils at MUG. He explained the university’s board decided to implement the new regulations to ensure smooth processes at exams.MUG is understood to be the first university in Austria to partially ban veils.The announcements come just days after the Freedom Party (FPÖ) came third in the Styrian provincial parliament elections. The right-wing party, which campaigned against “more mass immigration” and “radical Islam”, increased its share by 6.3 per cent to 10.9 per cent to come third.The party’s provincial chief Gerhard Kurzmann may face legal charges after the party presented an online game targeting mosques, minarets and muezzins. Civil rights officials ordered the FPÖ to take the game called “Moschee ba ba” (Bye, bye mosque) offline. It re-emerged on a homepage run by European neo-Nazis via a server located in the United States.Kurzmann and federal FPÖ boss Heinz-Christian Strache have warned of an increasingly dominant Islam in Europe and a decline of western civilisation.Around 500,000 of the 8.5 million people living in Austria are Muslims. There are around 200 houses of prayer but only four mosques with minarets across the country.The topic also dominates campaigning ahead of the 10 October Vienna city parliament election. Pollsters predict that the FPÖ has the potential to improve by five to eight per cent from the 14.8 per cent it won in the 2005 ballot.