SHAFAQNA – Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has called for the shutting down of Islamic kindergartens in the country.
The comment was made at a public event set up by Kurier newspaper. “Of course, we don’t need them. There should be no Islamic kindergartens,” Kurz said when asked whether he would agree to completely get rid of such facilities.
According to the foreign minister, proficiency in German must become a gateway to Austrian society.
Immigrant children and others “who have little or no command of German” would have to attend kindergarten one year longer than their Austrian peers, he said.
Kurz claimed these establishments isolated children linguistically and culturally and were paid for with taxpayers’ money.
“Quality criteria” for childcare workers should also be introduced to improve the standards of language proficiency.
Consequently, many Arab or Chechen kindergartens will fail to meet the requirements for state benefits and will be left with no choice but to close, Kurz said, adding, “This is the easiest way in terms of the law.”
In the meantime, the government “does very much” to improve integration efforts, Kurz said. He added, however, that success “depends very much on the number of those [who should be] integrated.”
Kurz, the youngest foreign minister in the EU at the time of his swearing-in back in 2013, has previously advocated putting more curbs on immigration. In March, he proposed the opening of refugee centers outside the European Union, suggesting the Republic of Georgia and countries of the Western Balkans as possible locations.
Last year, he also made some incendiary remarks on refugees being rescued on their way across the Mediterranean, saying a rescue from a boat in distress should be “no ticket to Europe.”
Refugees who are rescued from boats in the Mediterranean Sea “must be returned immediately, ideally to their country of origin,” Kurz vowed at the time.
Last month, The Austrian parliament has passed a bill that will outlaw the wearing of the burqa, the all face-covering veil worn by some Muslim women. The ban is part of a wider controversial law on migrants in the country.
The new laws that will be introduced from October last year will give police the power to fine people who wear clothes that hide facial features. The fee will be roughly US$166 (150 euros) and speculation says that it is designed to target women who choose to wear the burqa and niqab in many public settings, including on university campuses.