Via Breitbart, at last a clear answer to the question, “Who’s assimilating whom?”
Context is important, though. Alexander van der Bellen is a leftist (of course) but his position is largely ceremonial and the country’s policy on head coverings is more restrictive than you might think from listening to him. Austria banned full-face coverings like the burqa and niqab in January; the hijab, which covers the hair and neck, is still allowed among civilians but has also been banned among civil servants like cops, judges, prosecutors, etc. Even van der Bellen reportedly supports a ban on religious dress among judges for fear that it’ll raise suspicions about their impartiality and wants to see “clearer statements” from Austrian Muslim groups after European terror attacks opposing jihadism.
It’s a question about the ban on face coverings that seems to have prompted this answer, which begins as a defense of individual expression and multiculturalism and segues in record time into calls for conformity and assimilation — by the majority, to make the minority feel more at home. Nothing unusual about that. If you’ve followed western media’s retreat from reproducing images of Mohammed over the past 10 years, you know how this dynamic works. If there’s a difference between the two situations, it’s in the degree of violence being used to pressure the majority into conformity. Offhand I can’t recall any terror attacks that were justified by the perpetrators as reprisals for “burqa bans,” but every journalist in the western world knows after Charlie Hebdo what’s apt to happen if they don’t mind their manners about Mohammed. Maybe that’s the worst thing about van der Bellen’s plea here — he can’t even claim fear as a justification for suggesting this show of “solidarity.”