Disputes around Austrian women’s minister’s demand for burka ban

Social Democrat Women’s Minister Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek has stirred emotions with her demand to ban the burka in Austria. In various interviews on December 23, Heinisch-Hosek said: “I consider the burka a sign of the submission of women. It greatly hinders women from finding jobs in the labor market. If more women wearing burkas appear in Austria, I will test a ban on them and enact administrative fines for women wearing them in public buildings.”

Now a banned Islamist organisation, Hizb ut-Tahrir, sent a threatening letter to the minister, in which it condemned the minister’s remarks last week and threatened her using the sentence from the Koran: “And know that Allah is strong in punishment.” The Federal Crime Office (BK) took over the investigation, which is said to be the first serious case of Islamic fundamentalism in Austria.

Bomb plot suspects in Germany confess: lawyers

Four Islamic militants standing trial for planning big bomb attacks on U.S. targets in Germany have confessed to the charges, defense lawyers said on Thursday. The planned attacks were designed to be as destructive as the September 11, 2001 strikes in the United States, prosecutors said, adding that the defendants had identified bars, discos and the U.S. Ramstein air base as possible targets. Johannes Pausch, the lawyer representing defendant Daniel Schneider, said all four militants were making confessions. “My client is currently doing so; yesterday, today and tomorrow at the Federal Crime Office,” he told Reuters.”The others are also in the process of doing so. The whole thing should be concluded this week.” The charges against the four men include preparing bomb attacks and being members of a terrorist organization. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in jail. Lawyer Pausch said his client was hoping to get a reduced sentence by confessing. Two defendants, Schneider and Fritz Gelowicz, are German converts to Islam, while Atilla Selek is a German citizen of Turkish origin, and Adem Yilmaz is a Turkish citizen. Schneider would plead guilty in court to planning the attacks, Pausch said. Matthias Inverardi Reports.