Skip to main content

Photo: “Austrian Flag,” by Mikekilo74 licensed under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. Hue modified from the original.

Sauer, Birgit. “Radical right populist debates on female Muslim body-coverings in Austria. between biopolitics and necropolitics.” Identities (2022): 1-19.


The Austrian Parliament has passed three laws since 2018 that prohibit wearing Muslim body-coverings in public. This departure from a formerly tolerant approach is an outcome of ongoing anti-Muslim campaigns by the radical-right populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). The party has been mobilising since the mid-1980s through the creation of two antagonisms: ‘the elite’ and second against ‘Others’ – mainly migrants. Since the turn of the century, this anti-migrant mobilisation has targeted the intersection of gender and religion by focusing on veiled Muslim women. Targeting this intersection of gender and religion, the article applies a critical frame analysis of 19 FPÖ documents from 2006 to 2020 on restrictive rulings about female Muslim body-covering. It finds that Austrian radical right populist campaigns emphasise the female body and construct the Austrian ‘people’ (biopolitics), while necropower constructs Muslim migrants as non-belonging, excludable, and erasable.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.