German conservatives call for partial ban on face veil

Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:43pm EDT
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By Caroline Copley and Michelle Martin

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have agreed that women should be banned from wearing the face veil in schools and universities and while driving, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday.

The move follows an influx last year of more than 1 million, mainly Muslim, refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and growing security fears among the public after two Islamist attacks and a shooting rampage by a mentally unstable teenager.

Regional interior ministers belonging to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Christian Social Union (CSU) allies presented a declaration in Berlin on tougher security measures, including more police and greater surveillance in public areas.

Among the more disputed proposals is a call for a partial ban on the burqa and niqab garments. Lorenz Caffier, interior minister for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, said the full body veil is a barrier to integration, encourages parallel societies and suggests women are inferior.

"We all reject the full veil - not only the burqa but also other types of full veil that only leave the eyes visible ... It has no place in our society," de Maiziere told reporters.

"Baring one's face is essential for our communication, co-existence and social cohesion and that's why we're asking everyone to show their faces. We want to introduce a law to make people show their faces and that means that those who breach that law will have to feel the consequences."

The conservative interior ministers want to ensure women show their face while driving, when they register with authorities, at passport controls and at demonstrations. They also want civil servants, teachers, students at schools and universities, judges and witnesses in court to be banned from wearing the full veil.


A woman wears a burka while visiting Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle