Austria Bans Burqa, All Veils Covering Facial Features

Vienna- Police in the Vorarlberg district, Austria, has launched its preparations to implement a law banning all veils that cover facial features. The new law will come into force within few days on the 1st of October.

The Vorarlberg district on the country’s western borders was the first to announce its readiness for the law’s implementation, other districts highlighted some practical obstacles they might face them, and pointed out the importance of benefiting from the experiences of the neighboring European countries that paced Austria in this matter.

The law’s most debatable article is the ban of the burqa and all kinds of a veil that cover all the face.

The other articles prohibit the distribution of Quran copies in public places and roads and oblige asylum seekers to attend one-year integration courses to learn the German language, the values of the Austrian society, and the importance of voluntary works.

The authorities said the financial aid provided by the government will be suspended in case individuals didn’t commit to the new law.

When introduced as a bill to the Parliament, the law raised objections and was considered a direct interference with individual freedom, while the majority saw it as a direct measure to enhance integration and ensure security in Austria. According to the law, violations will cost a fine of 150 euros, and even a prison sentence.

For its part, local media outlets have promoted pictures for the allowed and prohibited veils. The Saudi Embassy in Austria informed its citizens about the new law and the “niqab” ban and requested them to respect the new law during their presence on the Austrian territories.

Commenting on the new law, women wearing a burqa in Vienna told “Asharq Al-Awsat” that the new law is just a pressure tool to keep in line with “Islamophobia” campaigns and to help right-winged voices win, especially that Austria is preparing for a fierce parliamentary election battle in mid-October.

Tourists rejected the law and said they are ready to pay the fine in order to commit to their convictions, given that they are visitors staying in Austria for limited periods, which means they are not seeking integration into the country.

Austrian liberal groups have opposed the law, not because they support the burqa and veil, but because they are committed to defending the individual freedom in outfit selection.

The tourism sector and local and international stores also expressed concerns regarding the impacts of the new law on the visits of Gulf tourists and the huge sums they spend compared with other tourists from other nationalities, including the Chinese and Russian nouveau-riches, along with Americans, Japanese and Germans visitors.

Heidi Klum Launches New Fashion Line at a Supermarket in Vienna

Vienna- As part of consequent fashion media campaigns, three designers have dedicated a special tribute for the Austrian capital, even though Vienna has not been among the international fashion cities, with Austria currently being preoccupied with fierce electoral campaigns preparing for the upcoming parliamentary battle in mid-September.

“We are close to you, in the same store, where you buy your needs of milk, eggs, and bread”, this is how the famous model Heidi Klum promoted her new clothing line, and logged into a new market that needs much preparation and intelligence to choose the right words, image, and style for a successful marketing.

The German fashion celebrity didn’t choose to launch her campaign with professional models walking on catwalk and red carpets, accompanied with loud music and with the attendance of a high-class guests and celebrities.

According to the hard age-related restrictions of the modeling world, Heidi who is 44, has become old enough to work in this field. However, she didn’t give up and didn’t sit heartbroken recalling her celebrity’s memories when she was with Claudia Schiffer the most famous German models in the world.

Heidi worked in acting, but did not make much success. She also took part in television programs, especially those tackling topics about design, tailoring, and fashion. She also gained celebrity in programs that prepare, select and train models.

Heidi Klum launched her marketing campaign of clothes which she designed in the United States where she lives, in a German supermarket, which has 10,000 branches in 28 countries, 3200 of them in are in Germany. The most expensive piece displayed in the new line was a leather jacket that costs 60 euros.

Heidi’s preference for affordable prices came due to a strong competition which she has faced from another German store which announced sales on clothes designed by the German-American singer Anastacia, who chose the city of Cologne to announce her campaign, and then headed to Vienna to continue promoting her designs, saying they are cheap and fit all pockets.

Spider Webs Can be Used in Cosmetic, Reconstructive Surgeries


Vienna – Before we remove spider webs, which annoy and disgust us, from our homes, we should read this article that supports previous researches that highlight the importance of these webs and their medical benefits.

According to a media report on Saturday, a medical team specialized in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery from the University of Vienna said the webs can be used to repair damaged nerves and tissues.

During a trial, researchers used Tanzanian spider “golden webs” that are known for their strength and durability. They are so strong that Tanzanian fishermen use them for their nets.

Spider web threads are strong, powerful, thin and long and can be used in nerve-related surgeries and tumor removal and the treatment of deep burns, in dentistry and other fields.

Doctors still use artificial material in nerve transplants. Should the synthetic material degrade, they may cause inflammation. Spider webs however are a natural substance that cannot be rejected by the body. They can therefore help in transplanting cells and enhance their growth until they attach themselves to the end of the opposite nerve.

The head of the research team pointed out that spider web threads are longer than threads currently used by surgeons. The former can reach 6cm in length, while the latter reach a maximum length of 4cm.

Spider threads are silky and rubbery, but strong and tough at the same time. They also have a greater bearing capacity than steel and are therefore known as “biological steel”.

Only female spiders produce webs. They do so through glands in their stomachs. Scientists can extract them through electric devices. More than 200 meters can be extracted at a time, depending on the diet of spider.

Alive Chicken…New Home Delivery Service in Austria


Vienna- Home delivery services have gradually grew. Rental and delivery of alive chicken is a new service created by Fabian Gutcher in Vienna. Customers can rent them through a special website or directly buy them from a farm in the governorate of Lower Austria.

The idea is that some people prefer to eat fresh eggs for their breakfasts, which cannot is a bit hard without hosting a chicken in their houses, however, that can now be done by the chicken rental process.

The “chicken rental” idea was created by Fabian Gutcher, 17, who faced difficulties with the traditional work in his father’s farm. He started by inviting his friends to help him, and noticed their pleasure when they took care of the animals, and their happiness when they cooked fresh eggs.

The chicken orders are delivered in cages that come in different sizes, and instructions on how to feed them are provided too. The order also includes special natural aliments mixed with vitamins, but they are optional in case the customer didn’t want to buy them, as poultry can be fed from homes’ wastes.

Among the binding instructions, chickens should be allowed to leave their cages during the day so they can move more freely. At night, they should be returned to the cage, which is preferred to be put in a dark place.

The cage should be cleaned regularly, and customers aiming to rent chickens must consult their neighbors before making their order, to avoid disturbance complaints.

The rental process, which has expanded to include nurseries, should be made according to a few-day contract, on the condition that its duration should not exceed one month. A chicken with the cage and its aliments are being leased for 70 euro. The food quantity can fullfil the chicken’s needs within four days.

Gutcher told the Austrian news agency that the tenant should know that chicken’s ovulation is linked to the care it receives, and that eggs cannot be expected daily.

Iraq: Jaafari Calls on Kurds to Avert Provoking Neighborhood


Vienna- Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has called for taking into consideration neighboring countries when tackling the Kurdish file, warning of any unwise act that might cause the rage of these countries as a hint on the independence referndum Iraqi Kurdistan is willing to hold in September.

During his visit to Vienna, he stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that there is no fear over rights of various Iraqi components, responding to a question on the planned Kurdish referendum that “Iraq is no longer as it was before.

Kurds today enjoy their full rights and the president was Kurdish after ousting Jalal Talabani as well as the second president Fouad Massoum.

He added that Kurds are found in the three authorities, sovereign ministries and the parliament – not only Kurds but all the components.

Jaafari saw that everyone has the right to express himself and that although the Iraqi nation is only one but the Iraqi communities are many.

“There is a community of Arabs, Kurds and Turk-men. There is no suppression or forbidding of voting or conducting referendum – the constitution remains to be the ruler and we agree upon all what is endorsed by it,” he added.

The Iraqi minister stressed that when dealing with the Kurdish file, it should be taken into consideration that Iraq is part of other Kurdish components in neighboring countries in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Russia and that any unwise act would provoke these states.

Jaafari defended his visit to Vienna to intervene in the case of two members from the Popular Mobilization Forces militias who were accused by international rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of committing anti-humanity violations and crimes during the fight.

Sultan bin Salman: SCTH Offers Comprehensive Program to Minimize Dependence on Public Jobs

Vienna- Prince Sultan bin Salman, the president of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), told Asharq al-Awsat on the sidelines of the 29th edition of Association of Space Explorers (ASE) conference that Saudi Arabia has become a pioneer in the field of space launching.

Speaking of SCTH, Prince Sultan affirmed that it has a comprehensive program to reduce the citizen’s dependence on government jobs or social insurance, noting that Saudi Arabia is a country of high spiritual, economic and cultural value and is always in the lead.

The association was founded following a constituent assembly held in Paris in 1985, according to the prince. “I was asked to be one of the founders; meetings continued for one week to mediate between two rival parties – the U.S. and the Soviet Union – to establish common ground,” he continued.

Prince Salman hailed the achievements made by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology as it is considered a prominent scientific organization in the region and has relations and deals in the field of space with China, Russia, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). 

The Prince said: “We usually urge the youths to activate their participation in the space domain and we hope that Saudi Arabia participates via an astronaut in scientific research in the advanced technical and scientific fields.”

According to Prince Sultan, a comprehensive plan, prepared in cooperation with experts and residents of all Saudi regions and based on realistic vision and figures, was presented years ago.

“The impact of tourism and heritage in Saudi Arabia would have been bigger had this plan been implemented,” he added.

Prince Sultan stressed that the citizen comes first. SCTH focuses on this point, on Saudization specifically. Despite the obstacles that faced the authority, it still managed to be recognized as the second Saudized sector in the national economy, he said.

“Tourism now has an international organization affiliated to the U.N.; it is also one of the three basic factors of economy diversification, job opportunities and salaries. Tourism represented 20% of some countries’ income and this is a fantastic figure…We request sufficient funding especially that Saudi Vision 2030 tackles the importance of tourism and national heritage,” concluded Prince Sultan.

Saudi FM says Russia fueling Syria conflict

A photo provided by the Austrian Foreign Ministry (Aussenministerium) shows Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (R) welcoming Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir (L) during an official meeting in Vienna, Austria, 22 October 2015.  (EPA/AUSSENMINISTERIUM)
A photo provided by the Austrian Foreign Ministry (Aussenministerium) shows Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (R) welcoming Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir (L) during an official meeting in Vienna, Austria, 22 October 2015. (EPA/AUSSENMINISTERIUM)
Vienna and Moscow, Asharq Al-Awsat—Russia’s military action in Syria is fueling the conflict there, Saudi FM Adel Al-Jubeir has said ahead of a meeting with his American, Russian and Turkish counterparts scheduled to take place in Vienna on Friday.

Addressing reporters in the Austrian capital on Thursday, Jubeir said the conflict in Syria will not end without the unconditional departure of President Bashar Al-Assad.

Syria has been in turmoil since early 2011 when a peaceful uprising morphed into a bloody conflict that pits Western-backed rebel groups against government forces backed by Iran and Russia. Last month, Moscow stepped up its military presence in Syria and launched a military campaign aimed mainly against Western-backed rebels although it initially said it targets the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

On Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Vienna to discuss ways to end the Syrian conflict that has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population.

The Saudi FM described the Russian intervention in Syria as extremely dangerous, warning that it could stir public sentiments against Moscow and in the process increase the flow of foreign fighters.

Asked whether Assad can have a role in any transitional government in Syria, Jubeir said the only way for him to help end the war would be to leave.

“The best scenario would be to wake up one morning with Assad gone,” the Saudi FM said.

Turkey, one of Assad’s staunchest opponents, will accept Assad staying in power for a “symbolic” six-month period that leads to the formation of a transitional government, Reuters quoted two government official as saying on Tuesday.

Turkey’s acceptance came after it received signals from Moscow pointing towards its readiness to consider the fate of the beleaguered president, a Turkish government official has told Asharq Al-Awsat.

However, Moscow appears to be pushing for an 18-month transitional period, with Assad part of power, to be followed by presidential elections in which Assad can participate, something which Assad’s opponents oppose, the source said.

The fact that Russia is involved in negotiations over the fate of Assad has been seen as a “positive sign” by some in the Syrian opposition who insist that Assad cannot be a partner in any potential transitional government or participate in any future elections.

Meanwhile, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said in televised remarks on Thursday that Moscow would like to see other regional countries involved in the talks over Syria, especially Iran.

Jubeir, on the other hand, said Iran is part of the problem and cannot be part of the solution.

Sami Amara contributed additional reporting from Moscow

Extension of deadline on Iran nuclear talks now likely: diplomats

US Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, from left, on their way to a meeting during nuclear talks on Iran, in Vienna, Austria, on Monday, November 24, 2014. (AP Photo)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, from left, on their way to a meeting during nuclear talks on Iran, in Vienna, Austria, on Monday, November 24, 2014. (AP Photo)

Vienna and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—An extension to the talks on Iran’s nuclear program now looks likely, a number of diplomatic sources have said, as Monday evening’s deadline for a comprehensive deal draws nearer.

An Iranian official source told French news agency AFP on Sunday that Tehran was looking to extend the negotiations for six months to a year.

Meanwhile, official Western sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the US and its allies were pushing for an extension of “a few weeks” only. Those sources said sticking points on a number of “technical issues” until Sunday evening were making it difficult to reach an agreement by the proposed deadline.

When asked about the prospect of an extension to the talks during an interview with news channel ABC, broadcast on Sunday morning, US President Barack Obama did not rule out an extension to the talks.

“I think that what we’re going to do is take a look at what emerges over the course of the weekend,” he said.

Negotiators from Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany—known as the P5+1—have been meeting in Vienna over the past week in a last-ditch bid to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities.

US Secretary of State John Kerry flew in to Vienna last Thursday, and has since met several times with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The US has taken care during the last days of the talks to keep its allies in the region, particularly Saudi Arabia, up to date on the negotiations. According to the Associated Press, Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal on Sunday following the day’s talks on board the latter’s plane, which was parked at Vienna Airport.

A US diplomatic source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, told Asharq Al-Awsat such meetings would likely be repeated due to the US’s desire to keep its regional allies’ interests and concerns in mind during the negotiations.

Meanwhile, Iranian state news agency ISNA reported that while a comprehensive agreement on the nuclear program was unlikely before Monday’s deadline, a broader political agreement was still on the table.

This agreement would pave the way for a more comprehensive deal if negotiations are extended as is widely expected.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat regarding the likelihood of a last-minute deal, Reza Marashi, from the National Iranian American Council, said the prospect of a “breakthrough” between both sides at the eleventh hour would not be unheard of within the context of sensitive high-level negotiations such as these, though he added this would require flexibility from both sides on the issues that have proven intractable thus far.

One of the main sticking points in the negotiations revolves around guarantees that Tehran’s nuclear program is, as it contends, entirely peaceful. The P5+1 are pushing for a reduction in Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity, which they fear could be utilized to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran, meanwhile, insists on maintaining an extensive infrastructure of centrifuges.

After 12 years of rising tensions in the region and crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic as a result of its nuclear ambitions, a deal is seen as crucial in maintaining stability in the region, currently already beset with the rising threat of extremist groups and the fallout from the Syrian conflict.

Failure of Iran nuclear talks will pose danger to region and beyond: official

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L), former EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (C) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) meet for talks on the sidelines of nuclear talks with Iran aimed at settling a dispute over Iran's nuclear program at the Palais Coburg in Vienna on November 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Joe Klamar, Pool)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L), former EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (C) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) meet for talks on the sidelines of nuclear talks with Iran aimed at settling a dispute over Iran’s nuclear program at the Palais Coburg in Vienna on November 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Joe Klamar, Pool)

Vienna and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The failure of the talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna could threaten regional stability, an Iranian official told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday, as hopes that a deal will be reached before Monday’s deadline fade.

Ali Khorram, an adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said: “The failure of the talks will strengthen the [positions of] extremists on both sides and will create chaotic and dangerous results both regionally and internationally.”

Negotiators from Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, known as the P5+1, have been meeting in Vienna over the past week in a last-ditch bid to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities.

The negotiators were joined by US Secretary of State John Kerry late last week, as both sides struggle to reach an agreement acceptable to their governments back home.

Kerry met with Zarif on Saturday in the Austrian capital and also had telephone conversations with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, as well as Turkey, according to a statement by the US State Department.

Speaking of Kerry’s efforts, Khorram said: “This shows the US’s strong desire for an agreement to be reached . . . and now we are negotiating on a deal that is more practical from an Iranian point of view compared with the talks that went on in Muscat.”

High-level talks between Iran and P5+1 were held in the Omani capital Muscat prior to the ongoing negotiations in Vienna, but did not yield an agreement.

Although reports say that some progress has been made in Vienna, others say that it is now unlikely that an agreement will be struck before Monday, when the self-imposed deadline agreed this time last year is due to expire.

One of the main sticking points in the talks thus far has been the size of Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity. Tehran wants to maintain an extensive infrastructure of centrifuges, while at the same time insisting its motives are entirely peaceful. The P5+1, however, insist a reduction is necessary in order to ensure them the Islamic Republic is not seeking to use the uranium enriched in its centrifuges to produce nuclear weapons.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, UK foreign office spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah said: “A deal will only be possible if Iran agrees to meaningful restrictions on its nuclear program.”

This would be the only way that the P5+1 would be certain Iran’s nuclear ambitions were entirely peaceful, the spokesperson added.

Iran also wants international economic sanctions removed immediately following any deal, with the P5+1 insisting these should be phased out gradually.

US sanctions as a result of Iran’s nuclear program have been in place since 2006, and have mainly targeted the country’s lucrative oil and gas industries. Financial sanctions are also in place, barring international financial institutions of carrying out any transactions with the Islamic Republic.

The sanctions have a had a heavy toll on the Iranian economy, resulting in high inflation rates that have put some ordinary products beyond the reach of most Iranians, while government subsidies to make them more affordable have in turn worsened the government’s already dire financial position.

Since Iran and the P5+1 reached an interim agreement in Geneva last November, some of these sanctions have been lifted, and Iran has received payments which were frozen when the sanctions were imposed. The P5+1 also agreed not to impose further sanctions while Iran abides by the agreement.

Dakhlallah said that should the talks fail to reach an agreement before the deadline, the limited sanctions relief Iran has enjoyed since last November would cease and further sanctions to those currently in place could be imposed.

Ali M. Pedram contributed reporting from London.

Conference on religious violence starts in Vienna

Delegates attend a session of the 'United Against Violence in the Name of Religion' conference at the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, in Vienna, in November 2014 (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Delegates attend a session of the ‘United Against Violence in the Name of Religion’ conference at the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, in Vienna, in November 2014 (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Vienna, Asharq Al-Awsat—A three-day conference to tackle religious violence and address the plight of minorities in the Middle East began on Tuesday morning at the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna, with the participation of over 100 religious figures, policymakers and diplomats from the Middle East and beyond

The conference, ‘United Against Violence in the Name of Religion: Protecting Religious and Cultural Diversity in Iraq and Syria,’ aims “to highlight existing initiatives and sketch out new responses to . . . [religious] violence,” especially focusing on Iraq and Syria, where groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) currently operate, “threatening the survival of religious minorities [and] the social and religious fabric of relations between religious communities, as well as Muslim religious institutions and communities.”

The event is being attended by a number of religious figures from the region including the Grand Muftis of Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, and the Patriarchs of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church, as well as the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church in Syria, and representatives from the Coptic Church in Egypt and the Syriac Maronite Church in Lebanon.

The center’s secretary-general, Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Al-Muammar, said during his keynote address opening the conference that religious, cultural and ethnic diversity were “sources of strength for societies and not sources of conflict and strife.”

He accused religious and political extremist groups and terrorist organizations of failing to realize this, and of hiding behind “religious slogans to achieve political ends.”

He also accused these groups of bringing increasing turbulence to the Middle East and the wider world through their actions, which increased polarization and enmity between people of different faiths around the world. In addition, he denounced their efforts to change the historic religious, cultural and ethnic makeup of the region, singling out the actions of extremists in Syria and northern Iraq as particular examples.

The conference will discuss a host of proposals to counter the extremist ideologies driving sectarian violence, including the use of social media and encouraging citizenship and interreligious education in the region, and the of role of religious institutions and religious education in countering religious violence and fostering peace between different communities.

Also present at the conference are Nasser Al-Nasser, a representative for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Adama Dieng, the UN’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide.

The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue is headquartered in Vienna, Austria, and was opened in 2012 to build and foster relations between different faiths and cultures.