German interior minister announces support for partial ban on burkas

Thomas de Maiziere calls for legislation to forbid full face veils in public

 Thomas de Maiziere

Thomas de Maiziere | File photo: PA Images

Germany’s interior minister has expressed his support for a partial ban on burkas, saying the full face veil “does not belong in our cosmopolitan country”.

Thomas de Maiziere told TV network ZDF that the ruling CDU party was committed to advancing legislation that would require women to expose their faces in public.

"We unanimously reject the burqa," he said after meeting with state-level counterparts, according to a translation by Deutsche Welle.

"It does not fit in our open country."

Mr de Maiziere said the proposed legislation would forbid women from wearing the burka in places where "it is necessary for living together in our society”.

The ban would apply to cars, schools, universities, courts and public offices, he said.

The announcement has been seen as something of a concession to hardline conservatives ahead of a series of upcoming state elections.

Mr  de Maiziere dismissed calls for a ban on burkas only last week, as he announced a new raft of measures to tackle terrorism, including plans for more police, stronger national security and a speedier deportation process.

This morning, however, he indicated that the German parliament would likely approve a more moderate proposal.

Radicalism

The debate over the wearing of full face veils comes in the wake of two recent attacks claimed by the Islamic State.

On July 25th, a suicide bomb attack which injured 15 people was carried out by a Syrian given temporary leave to stay but denied asylum.

And on July 18th, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan armed with an axe and a knife attacked passengers on a train in Wuerzburg.

The right-wing AfD party has sought to link the attacks to increased migration into the country.

Merkel, however, has repeatedly resisted calls to reverse her policy of taking in refugees.

"The terrorists want to make us lose sight of what is important to us, break down our cohesion and sense of community as well as inhibiting our way of life, our openness and our willingness to take in people who are in need," she said last month.

"They see hatred and fear between cultures and they see hatred and fear between religions. We stand decisively against that."