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Bavaria pushes ahead with burqa ban as elections loom

An Afghan family, with the mother wearing a burqa, at a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registration centre in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

MUNICH/BERLIN (Reuters) Bavaria will ban the full-face veil in schools, universities, government workplaces and polling stations, the southern German state said on Tuesday (Feb. 21).

The move comes seven months before a federal election where immigration will be a prominent issue and the Bavarian conservatives that govern the region, the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s, are worried about losing votes to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

“Communication happens not only via language but also via looks, facial expressions and gestures,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said after the regional government agreed a draft law to ban the full-face veil for civil servants and in public places where there are concerns for public safety.

“It’s the foundation of our interactions with each other and it’s the basis of our free and democratic order,” he said. “Concealing your face is at odds with this culture of communication.”

In December, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a ban on full-face Muslim veils “wherever legally possible.”

The moves come after more than a million, mainly Muslim, migrants arrived in Germany over the last two years and amid widespread security fears after several Islamist attacks last year.

France and Belgium have banned the burqa and the region of Lombardy in northern Italy has banned it in hospitals and public offices belonging to the regional government.

Herrmann said he expected Bavaria’s regional parliament, in which the CSU has an absolute majority, to approve the law by the summer break.

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  • Its a great illustration between nations which go through the motions of claiming to have religious freedom and those which actually have it.

    Can anyone even think such a law would pass muster under the 1st Amendment here? Of course not.

  • Isn’t one of the supposed fears about “allowing” full-face veils that it will stifle women’s freedom? If that’s the case, then why are we worried about female university professors and students, and civil servants, wearing them? Is that insufficient liberation? Maybe, just maybe, we should let women decide for themselves.
    Another sad thing is that it seems the CDU and CSU, both mainstream center-right parties, are only doing this to protect their right flank. If AfD did not exist, neither would this law.

  • I fully support burqa bans. If males have a problem with their emotions and/or sexual feelings when they see a woman, the men better figure out a way to manage themselves. Maybe they should wear blinders like carriage horses do.

    If burqas were common place wear I’d be worried about another one of those white Christian terrorists donning one to hide hide his weapons while he sneaks around to create another terrorist attack.

  • My problem with them is the whole categorical nature of the ban. IMO, it is fully OK to do it where there is some kind of legitimate rational and secular purpose (security, theft prevention, avoidance of dangerous threats of getting snagged).

    Once we get past the practical and start talking about the ideology behind it, we start getting into some very murky cultural bias as justification. Something we do not, nor should not base laws on.

  • Just how many white Christian terrorists do you think there are relatively speaking? As to their Christianity, that could be taken into question. On a percentage basis, there are probably no more “Christian” terrorists, than there are “Muslim” terrorists, and what has “white” got to do with anything? As to men and their emotions and sexual feelings. in the bible Paul admonishes women to dress modestly, is that unreasonable in light of the fact that psychological studies have shown that men more than women are aroused visually? That said, every man has an obligation to behave circumspectly despite any physiological response that may move him. In my own case, in an effort to be true to what I profess, I endeavor to look away when I view a woman whose appearance pleases me in a physiological way; In honesty, I’m not always successful. In the case of Christian women, I know many sisters in Christ who purposely dress with extreme modesty because they are sensitive to the natural predilections of the male of the species. In some ways, ironically, that makes them more attractive, but on a different level. But I love (phileos/agape) their sensitivity to my natural weakness; that is what Christian empathy is all about, and it demonstrates their spiritual maturity because they do not insist upon their freedom to dress as they please..

  • It’s probably reasonable to say that there are fairly equivalent numbers of Christian terrorists and Muslim terrorists. But the current administration is only targeting Muslims and, in fact, has taken American white supremacist terrorists off the watch list. That doesn’t make sense.

    “White” is important because people with white skin aren’t on any American terrorist watch lists, even though several terror attacks have most likely been committed by white people. I’m referring to the bomb threats to JCCs, vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, burning down mosques, etc. There are no records of POC wearing Nazi tattoos or using Nazi symbols in graffiti. It is reasonable to assume those are white terrorists.

    It seems that you agree that men have issues with visual stimulation. It is their issue to deal with, not women’s to fix. If a woman freely chooses to dress in a certain way, that’s fine. I object to a religion that uses violent force on a woman to make her dress in a way she does not want or that makes her anonymous.

  • Violent force is never an option, but as women are not all alike in their aims and motivations it is not unlikely that many Muslim women, as well as Christian women, volitionally choose to dress in a circumspect, not to say, severe fashion. I’m disappointed that you did not , even grudgingly, assign any value to the idea of women looking outward rather than inward by embracing a sympathetic stance in response to the natural tendencies of men. I’m not arguing for freedom from accountability on the part of men, but as stated, am gratified by the selfless response of those women who understand the male problem. And isn’t that also what our faith calls us to? That is, self denial on the part of both men and women when it eliminates a stumbling block for the other. That meets my definition of charity. Not insisting on our own even when we have the right. As John the Baptist put it, “He must increase and I must decrease.” That is sound advice for us all. Even as we differ, I wish you well.

  • Edward, a history of female and male is chock full of “the selfless response of those women who understand the male problem.” There is very, very, very little of the opposite, if any. Isn’t it time for the male to deal with his own problems, rather than expecting women to do it for him?

    Your response to this is historically typical dominant male thought pattern. You have a problem with the world so the world must be adjusted. That may be keeping the office air conditioner turned down low for your comfort in your suit while the women suffer from chill. Or it may be medical testing performed on men while assuming the same results apply to women.

    Really Edward, the examples of reorienting the world to more comfortably accommodate the male are endless. Children and women have played the role of accomodators throughout history. Try to get out of your point of view and look through the eyes of the Other as you consider these things.

    BTW, I’m not speaking from anger. I’m hoping you will try to see from a non-male centric point of view.

  • I can certainly see force in you argument in some respects, yet your example of the office may represent individual thoughtlessness without specific reference to accommodation.

    All of us are prone to think in terms of our own comfort by nature without thinking of how it impacts others whether of our own gender or not. Do men, even Christian men have space for growth in this regard, I think it goes without saying. On the whole both sexes are guilty and capable of selfishness, and as the relative increase of power and influence in the broader world advances in application to women, they too face greater risk of applying that power and influence in less than selfless ways.

    It is certainly not my intent to wage war, philosophically or otherwise, on women. But rather to wage war on selfishness and “I’ism,” promoting selflessness irrespective of gender. I don’t discount the history of relative male privilege, but then men have traditionally held the privilege of dying in defense of national safety ( I understand women too have clamored for that privilege, and are now increasingly provided with the opportunity to exercise it). But I speak as a male of no particular privilege at any point in my life, and have often been humbled by women both smarter and of greater ambition, and beyond a touch of envy, I have not been jealous of them. But as my worldview is framed entirely by my faith, clear precepts from the bible on modesty and dress,(which apply equally to both men and women) are due my approbation. For example, the story on this website regarding the Mardi Gras’ dancer in Rio who professes that dancing naked or nearly naked during Festival is consistent with her Christian faith needs some serious corrective instruction.

  • I agree with you about certain public behaviors, including nudity or near nudity, are inappropriate. I feel the same way about simulated or real sexual acts, especially noticed in music videos. In my mind those actions are “trashy” regardless of who does them.

    Edward, you said, “But I speak as a male of no particular privilege at any point in my life.” But you do have privilege as a white male. It’s not due to something you’ve done, nor do you need to consciously take advantage of it. It’s there. It’s how our culture and social structures are arranged and based. I urge you to do some investigation via books, videos, lectures or other sources. Many white males have little awareness of their privilege because for them, it’s simply the way the world is.

    Best of luck with that and, as always, good discussion Edward. I will give your comments consideration. Thank you.