Speaking to a German newspaper, Austria’s Foreign Minister warned of the growing influence of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the Balkans.
“In Sarajevo and Priština (Kosovo), for example, women are paid to wear the full veil in public,” Sebastian Kurz told Handelsblatt Global.
“We cannot look on and do nothing.”
FM Kurz demanded an accelerated integration of the region with the EU to keep Turkey and Russia at bay. He said other pressing issues, like Brexit or migration, should not distract the EU from the Western Balkans. Tensions were still high within and between countries in the region, he said.
“We must continue to play an active role in this crucial region, offering a credible EU perspective.”
In the beginning, everybody was telling me that I started wearing veil for money – even my closest relatives
Claims that Muslim women in the Balkan countries are paid by Islamic organizations to wear veil have been around since the end of the Yugoslav wars of the nineties. Although part of the popular belief, there was never strong evidence that “veil-for-pay” is a widespread thing. The belief, however, stigmatized the women who decided to wear veil as an expression of their faith.
“In the beginning, everybody was telling me that I started wearing veil for money – even my closest relatives,” a woman told a news website last year.
“(People) often ask me why I cover my head, who talked me into that (…). A few people asked me openly how much money I get (for wearing veil). I smile and say I don’t get paid; it was my decision,” another woman said.
They don’t live with parents, they have children, but none of them has a job
However, activist Aida Ćorović from Serbia’s mainly Muslim region of Sandžak, told Politika that there is no evidence of women being paid to wear veil, but “where there is smoke, there is fire”.
“I know young married couples in (the town of) Novi Pazar; the husband is dressed like a Wahhabi, the wife wears a chador or a burqa; they don’t live with parents, they have children, but none of them has a job (…) yet they have money for a normal life. Nobody knows where they get the money.”