• Germany's news in English
 
Op-Ed
Should Germany ban the burqa?
Photo: DPA

Should Germany ban the burqa?

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?

“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 stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Schumacher Jr lives up to his name
Schumacher Jr is too young to drink any of that champagne. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr lives up to his name

Mick Schumacher Jr did his famous father proud on his Formula Four debut on Saturday by claiming a trophy as the best rookie and finishing ninth, despite starting 19th. READ  

Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank
Deutsche Bank acquired Postbank in 2008. Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank

Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank announced late Friday it was seeking to sell its Postbank subsidiary as part of a revamp to improve profitability. READ  

Far left activists attack immigration office
Photo: DPA

Far left activists attack immigration office

Far-left extremists attacked an immigration office in Leipzig early on Friday morning. It was the second targeted attack on an official building in the city in recent months. READ  

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo:DPA

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted on Friday that calling Armenian massacres genocide risks belittling the Holocaust, after President Joachim Gauck broke a taboo by using the word on Thursday. READ  

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career
Mick Schumacher on test day earlier in April. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career

Michael Schumacher's 16-year-old son starts his Formula Four career this weekend, under the pressure of living up to the famous family name of the seven-time Formula One world champion. READ  

Property of the week
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Mr Lodge

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

A highly sought-after location, great connection to public transport, and a very stylish interior – Does that sound good to you? Then you’ll love this week’s property! READ  

Germany's most polluted cities
The sun rises behind a coal-burning power station in Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

Germany's most polluted cities

The Federal Environment Ministry has named the most polluted places around the country, with Stuttgart claiming the undesirable title of Germany's most polluted city. READ  

Göring's daughter fails in bid to win father's assets
Edda Göring photographed in 1942. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Göring's daughter fails in bid to win father's assets

The Bavarian government rejected on Thursday an attempt by Hermann Göring's daughter to win back her father's assets, which the government seized in 1948. READ  

Tugce accused admits to delivering fatal blow
Tugce Albayrak's death shocked Germany. Photo:DPA

Tugce accused admits to delivering fatal blow

When 22-year-old Tugce Albayrak was fatally beaten in a MacDonald's car park in November 2014, Germany was left in a state of shock. On the first day of her attacker's trial he admits to 'boxing her on the ear.' READ  

Prosecutors want info on spies' help to US
Gerhard Schindler, head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency. Photo: DPA

Prosecutors want info on spies' help to US

Federal prosecutors have asked for access on files from the Bundestag (German parliament) inquiry into mass surveillance, after news that German spies helped the US eavesdrop on European leaders and businesses. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,216
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd