• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Should Germany ban the burqa?

The Local · 15 Jul 2014, 11:35

Published: 15 Jul 2014 11:35 GMT+02:00

Opponents of such a ban here say it would heavily infringe on personal, cultural and religious freedoms and only serve to inflame tensions.

Advocates insist the burqa has no place in progressive, pluralistic German society.

In Frankfurt am Main, a city of 700,000 residents, including a large Muslim population, the issue has split Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU Party and the Greens within the ruling coalition.

Currently, staff in the municipal administration are not allowed to wear veils at work, and there are calls for this to be extended into public life. 

The Local talked to the heads of both local party branches about the implications of a potential ban in Germany, which has around four million Muslims, only a small number of whom wear veils in public.

'Yes to a ban'

"My main objection to the burqa is that it is the strongest signal of dissociation from an open and free society," CDU head Uwe Becker tells The Local.

"We live in a city which is rich in colour and diversity and has 170 nationalities represented. Muslims, Christians, Jews and all manner of other religions peacefully coexist, and it is characteristic of Frankfurt that it all happens in an atmosphere of great openness and freedom.

“But the burqa sends a strong signal that a person does not wish to integrate in the rest of society or wants to dissociate themselves from it.

“For me this issue is not about any restriction of culture or religion, but rather about the risk of disrupting co-existence in such a multi-cultural city as ours.

“Another aspect is how wearing a burqa impacts on public order and the establishment of a person's specific identity.

“In Germany we also had a discussion and subsequent ban [in 1985] on concealing one's face at demonstrations.

“We want to know who is behind the veil and with whose individual actions we are dealing with.”

Do you advocate fines for wearing a burqa in public, which in France is set at €150?

“Whether and to what extent this would be backed up with fines is not the focus for me.

“This is more about making it clear that the lasting, peaceful coexistence of so many cultures and religions is possible precisely because people acknowledge the open society we have in Europe and in Germany - and don't segregate themselves from it.

“Judging from the responses I have received in Facebook and via newspapers, some 90 percent of people here agree.

“But our coalition partners say that a ban is excessive and that we should avert this self-segregation through persuasion instead.”

'No to a ban'

But Martina Feldmayer, co-chairperson of Frankfurt's Green Party takes a different view, as she tells The Local.

Your coalition colleague Uwe Becker says, "We want to know who is behind the veil." Do you think a person or group has the right to insist on this?

“Yes, they have that right, just as others have the right to see the matter differently. There is a big spread of opinion.

“The question here is what do we want to achieve? A better level of integration and more openness within a pluralistic society?

Story continues below…

“You don’t achieve this through imposing bans, because then the hole just gets deeper. We prefer to persuade rather than prohibit.

“In reality, [full veiling of women] is not a mass phenomenon here anyway, and I am concerned that a debate has been set in motion that will only result in stronger polarization.”

How do you regard the position expressed in a similar discussion in Canada by Muslim Canadian Congress spokeswoman Farzana Hassan: "If a government claims to uphold equality between men and women, there is no reason for them to support a practice that marginalizes women."?

“A government should always observe gender equality. But this is not a question of supporting a practice but rather whether something should be banned. And everyone should give careful consideration to the consequences.

“Rather than helping, I think a burqa ban will have the opposite effect and result in some women not being allowed out in public at all.

“My co-chairperson of the Greens in Frankfurt, Omid Nouripour [a Muslim German of Iranian origin], is also against banning the burqa.

“Through Frankfurt’s integration policy and the work of its council for religion affairs we have made great progress through dialogue towards common values. And we came further this way than by discussing bans.”

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Chancellor Angela Merkel showing up French President François Hollande in a neighbourly battle of table manners. Photo: DPA.

Despite what stereotypes might have you believe, Germans aren't that different from the rest of us when it comes to social interactions. But these tips should at least help guide you through the minor quirks that come with your next dinner invitation.

Thugs' ‘dream cop’ in court for not investigating 100 cases
Fans at a VfL Bochum match set off flares. Photo: DPA

For three years a police officer in western Germany simply ignored many of the cases he was supposed to investigate. His trial started on Tuesday in Bochum.

Police arrest suspect in murder of Chinese student
Police secure the crime scene where Yanjie Lie's body was found on May 13th. Photo: DPA

Police have made an arrest in the case of a Chinese student murdered while she was out jogging a week ago, media reported on Tuesday.

Berlin thief shows heart in surprising act of kindness
Photo: DPA

Pickpockets are an ever more common phenomenon in the German capital. But sometimes they can surprise you.

Bayer's Monsanto bid
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
An anti-Monsanto activist at a protest in Brandenburg in 2014. Photo: DPA

A proposed tie-up between Bayer and Monsanto has inflamed opinion in Germany where most people oppose genetically modified foods.

Why Greece is top of Germany's to-do list - again
Unemployed Greek workers with symbolically chained hands march on May 1st in Athens. Photo: DPA

Greece has been in the headlines more often this year for its front-line role in the refugee crisis than its finances – so just why is it top of Germany's agenda again all of a sudden?

Far-right AfD turns on itself over failed Muslim meeting
Jörg Meuthen. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party has criticized his party colleagues after talks with Muslim leaders collapsed after just an hour on Monday.

Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
BMW's headquarters in Munich. Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital leaves other German cities in the dust when it comes to where the highest-valued companies choose to plant their flag.

Bavaria tries to coax migrants into police force
Joachim Herrmann (cr) with police recruits in Nuremberg. Photo: DPA

Bavaria’s interior ministry has started a campaign to encourage more migrants to join up as officers of the law - whether they have a German passport or not.

Extremist violence 'exploded' in record year for refugees
Left-wing violence at the Blockupy protest in Frankfurt in March 2015. Photo: DPA.

It is now official: 2015 smashed all records for political violence, as the far right attacked refugee homes and the far left responded by attacking them in turn, Interior Ministry figures show.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Business & Money
Surprise results give Germany strongest growth in two years
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Munich
The bloody knife attack that shocked a Bavarian town
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
Culture
The 6 German words you need to know for spring
Culture
6 weird and wonderful ways Germans celebrate May 1st
Gallery
Feast your eyes on Germany in springtime bloom
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
Politics
Merkel allows Erdogan case against German satirist to go ahead
Travel
7 of Germany's most jaw-dropping national parks
Hamburg
Gay penguins move to Hamburg to settle down
Business & Money
See-through €5 coin has collectors lining up
Health
Vegan hemp powder recalled over fear toddlers getting high
7,734
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd