Angela Merkel advocates for burqa ban, saying they’re “not appropriate” in Germany
On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a ban on burqa, or full-faced veils worn by some Muslim women, at a Christian Democratic Union party meeting. Merkel supported the ban in schools, courts, and other state buildings, calling burqa “not appropriate,” despite how this would clearly violate freedom of religion guaranteed in the German constitution. Merkel stated that it was simply inappropriate for women to fully cover their faces in public, and thus, the burqa “should be banned wherever it is legally possible.”
Merkel is known as a “center-right” politician, and despite her endorsement of this ban drawing applause from members of her party, many have come to recognize Merkel as a progressive figure for her support for refugees last year and will be disappointed by her support for an Islamophobic policy.
“Our law takes precedence over codes of honor, tribal or family rules, and over sharia law – that has to be spelled out clearly. This also means that it is important to show face when people communicate,” Merkel elaborated further at the conference.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière previously iterated a similar message in August, telling reporters that the full-face veil “doesn’t fit in with our open society.” He added, “To show one’s face is crucial for communicating, for living together in our society and keeping it together. In the areas where it serves a function to show one’s face, we want to make it a rule … and this means whoever breaks it must feel the consequences.”
Merkel’s support for this ban appears to follow a trend of the chancellor’s hardening stance against foreign-born individuals after she watched her support decline sharply upon opening Germany’s borders to refugees fleeing war and persecution in the Middle East. For example, Merkel recently amended policies to render it easier to deport foreign-born individuals, BBC notes.
While women who wear burqas are certainly a minority and not much of Germany’s population of Muslims, which has substantially increased as more migrants and refugees came to the country last year, such a ban would still ultimately serve to stigmatize all Muslims. Most western societies scorn eastern nations for repressive laws and policies regarding religion, but such a ban, already implemented in France, would literally punish some women for peacefully practicing their religion, forcing them to either show what they may not be comfortable showing or remove themselves from society.
Merkel and other supporters of the ban claim it promotes open communication when, in reality, it serves to force conformity among nonwhite people and sweepingly cast them as dangerous. When German leaders claim the burqa doesn’t work in their “open society,” what they really mean is that it doesn’t work in their white, Christian society.
On Tuesday, Merkel won reelection to be chairwoman of the CDU party, a position she has held since 2000, and is preparing to run for a fourth term as chancellor in the 2017 election.