Austria's leading Islamic body has been criticised by government officials for recommending that Muslim women wear a headscarf from the start of puberty.
Officials have described the comments by the Islamic Religious Community (IGGO) as an attack on women's freedom and integration, according to RT.
The ruling, made by Mufti Mustafa Mullaoglu from the IGGO's advisory council, recommends that "for female Muslims coming to the age of puberty, the covering of the body, with the exception of the face, the hands, and the feet of some lawyers, is a religious command."
However the group also “advocates and underscores the personal freedom of the individual woman to choose different views in her religious practice. Women and men who do not adhere to the religious attitudes cannot be devalued by others.”
The Austrian minister for foreign affairs and integration Sebastian Kurz told the newspaper Osterreich: "I have to say clearly: we reject an obligation to [wear] the headscarf."
Secretary of state Muna Duzdar said: “It is unacceptable that women and girls are restricted in their freedom and men want to dictate to them how to live and how to dress."
According to the Austria Press Agency the leader of the far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, said: “The current debate around the headscarf bid, published recently by IGGO on its website, shows the lines between the alleged integration efforts of the federal government and the intentions of the representatives of the Islamic faith community who refuse to integrate.”
IGGO representatives have responded to the criticism by stating that the final choice of wearing the headscarf lies with the woman and denounced political interference in religious matters.