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Angela Merkel calls for countrywide, full-face veil ban in Germany

German Chancellor and leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party Angela Merkel is pictured at the CDU party convention in Essen, Germany, on Dec. 6, 2016. Photo by Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

BERLIN (USA Today)  German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a countrywide ban on face-covering veils such as burqas worn by some Muslim women, as she made a pitch for her fourth term in next year’s elections.

Speaking Tuesday (Dec. 6) at a conference of her conservative Christian Democratic Union party, Merkel said she would support the ban “wherever possible.” She also said last year’s migrant crisis, which drew about 890,000 refugees to Germany, “must never happen again.”

“The full-face veil is not acceptable in our country,” she said to party members meeting in Essen. “It should be banned wherever legally possible.”

“A situation like the one in the late summer 2015 cannot, should not and must not be repeated,” she added.

In August, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière proposed a ban on the burqa to apply to schools, government offices and other public places.

In 2011, France and Belgium became the first countries in Europe to ban the garment, using legislation that also includes fines. Last month, Dutch lawmakers voted to ban the veil in public places.

In the 2017 federal elections, Merkel — who was re-elected party leader on Tuesday — will face a test of her policies. Her party has been unhappy about her welcoming stance toward refugees, while the party has seen its public support drop sharply to 41 percent in recent polls.

In state elections this year, including Merkel’s home region, support for the anti-immigrant Alternative For Deutschland party has spiked, with the party winning seats in regional parliaments for the first time in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Merkel, as a result, has shifted right, tightening asylum restrictions and spearheading a deal with Turkey this year to deport some refugees arriving from that country.

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Jabeen Bhatti

9 Comments

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  • The second ammendment prevents that from happening here in the US. Most states have laws banning full face coverage in public for safety and law enforcement reasons. But even liberal Americans would be uneasy seeing women in burkas walking on our streets.

  • The first amendment would prevent the ban from happening except in narrow, rationally and secular reasoned situations.

  • I am definitely liberal and I think burkas and niqabs should both be be banned. (Niqab leaves a slit for eyes.) There are safety reasons for the public, as well as the women themselves.

    This summer I was driving on a city street and glanced in the rear view mirror. I nearly panicked because the person behind me had their face covered! Then I looked closet and realized the driver was a Muslim woman wearing a niqab. I want every driver to have a full field of vision, including peripheral.

    It’s not just law enforcement who need to see faces. I want to be able to assess people around me too. Muslim women need the ability to get a good look at the people around them for the same reason.

    So yes, ban burkas and niqabs.

  • Actually I am left of center. And yes it would be quite a culture shock for many Americans. Not the hijab, but the full covering with only a small slit exposed.

  • I think current laws would suffice. Here in SC the law was aimed at the KKK. In public they must remove their hoods.

  • Apart from concerns here at home, it has become abundantly clear, to me at least, that Angela Merkel is utterly feckless, I marvel that her party reelected her leader.

  • See, these are great reasons for such a ban. But I think it sets a bad precedent to ban them for anything other than basic mundane purposes such as safety and security.

    The problem with Merkel’s (and European approaches in general) to the subject is the reason for the ban. That it symbolizes women being inferior in Muslim culture. Its a very subjective and biased reason. Something that would never fly with the 1st Amendment here.

    But obvious ones like driver safety, airport security, shoplifting make sense.

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