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Hesse bans burkas for state workers

The Local · 2 Feb 2011, 11:20

Published: 02 Feb 2011 11:20 GMT+01:00

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The decision was made by Interior Minister Boris Rhein in response to a worker at a local administrative office, or Bürgeramt, in Frankfurt who wanted to report for work wearing a burka.

The woman is just finishing a period of parental leave but has been given some extra time to reconsider her position.

“We have allowed her a couple more days to think about the situation,” said Frankfurt city head of personnel Markus Frank. “We want to relieve the pressure somewhat.”

The 39-year-old woman had the option of returning to work without her burka. Before she went on parenting leave, she wore a headscarf only.

But shortly before her scheduled return to work, she announced she wanted to wear a full burka on religious grounds. Daily Bild reported that there might be financial issues involved, as there had been discussion of a €40,000 settlement, though the woman’s lawyer had later talked of €18,000.

However Frank insisted the woman was not due for any kind of financial settlement. Nor is she being paid at the moment, because she is a part-time worker.

“We will not pay a cent of taxpayers’ money for this,” Frank said.

The city was following the clear rule that workers in the public service must make their faces visible. Frank said he hoped that the woman would think the matter over and return to work without the burka.

“We’re giving her another chance. Either she takes it or she doesn’t,” he said. “That is a clear limit that we are sticking to.”

Interior Minister Rhein said the state government was on safe legal ground because public service workers were obliged to be politically and religiously neutral. Veiled women conveyed the image that was not consistent with liberal and cosmopolitan values.

“What’s more, the burka can be understood as a sign of an attitude contrary to the values of the western world,” said Rhein.

Story continues below…

The environmentalist Greens members of Hesse’s state parliament backed the decision.

“We regret the fact that it’s actually come to this debate because this abstruse interpretation of Islam by the city employee shows an image of Islam that has nothing to do with the views of almost all Muslims in Germany,” said Mürvet Öztürk, the integration policy spokesman for the party’s parliamentary group in the state.

DAPD/The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:39 February 2, 2011 by William Thirteen
seems reasonable enough. German bureaucracy is opaque enough as it is!
15:59 February 2, 2011 by Gaidi
that sound fair... i wouldn't feel comfortable speaking to anybody who is covering his / her face.... i think the whole Burka thing is a bit extreme..
16:16 February 2, 2011 by maxbrando
Yaay! If the "religious" reason for wearing this this is because it is sinful for others to see your head, then she should be fired immediately. How can you deal with others if you cannot be seen?
16:21 February 2, 2011 by bramblebush
Is this Germany or the middle east? If she wants to wear that croaker sack, she should repatriat herself to Arabland and become wife number 10 to some Haji....
17:59 February 2, 2011 by Landmine
When in Rome she must remember, do as Romans do...

I think the State is correct taking the position they took. This is not the Middle East and if she wants to hear it at home, hey go for it. But at work, it's quite another thing... Everyone in the West that has a professional or government job has dress guidelines.

Now if they could just make that happen with bank robbers too, we'd be all set....
18:15 February 2, 2011 by Jerr-Berlin
18:36 February 2, 2011 by xx.weirich.xx
Good job :)
18:40 February 2, 2011 by marimay
Yeah! Great job! don't want the germans making potty in their pants for no reason!
18:46 February 2, 2011 by Frenemy
@Landmine: at home she probably struts around butt a$$ naked or models her couture lingerie in front of the mirror when she "thinks" no one is looking (yep, the light on her webcam is probably on)...

But god forbid she shows an ankle when there might be Muslim (read jealous/insecure) men around to culturally pressure/threaten her).
20:23 February 2, 2011 by thomass66
Gute Arbeit Deutschland - vielen Dank. Thanks for finally taking what I see as the "right" stance on this issue and I just hope you are not forced to back down on this, like they have been is so many other "similar" cases across Europe - this type of action is way overdue - Thanks.

By the way Bramblebush had it right, you don't want to assimilate then head back home, I'll pay for the plane ticket, just post a note letting me know where to have it delivered, I'll have it FEDEX'd to you, really.
21:10 February 2, 2011 by KenVdM
Make it a public ban, the Burka shouldn't be allowed in Europe point. For security reasons no one should have the right to conceal their face in public. Profiling and additional security checks should also be used to stop muslims in such areas as airports, train stations (etc...).
21:26 February 2, 2011 by fryintl
This was a great and bold decision. I think I see Germany taking the lead world wide in saying, enough is enough. I don't want them calling out to prayer in my village/dorf, and I prefer they wear their religion in their church or home- in private. It is like being forced to know soemone is gay. I have many gay friends, believe it or not, but I don't go around telling everyone I am straight, and they shouldn't force their personal sexual preference on me.

BUrkas are fro privacy, or, don't go out in public. Assemble where you wish and do not force your point of view on me. Let me absorb it and react as I like. And as was stated above, when in Rome, but remember, pretty soon political correctness will mandate that we all become like the loudest speaking minority, and lose our personal indentity becausse our existance is hard for the minority point of view to tolerate...I love tolerance
02:51 February 3, 2011 by cheeba
I think everyone is getting too excited about this. If this woman wants to conceal her face, why not let her? Does the burka interfere with her doing her job in some way?
07:00 February 3, 2011 by Aasvogel
A good start. Next: a complete ban on the wretched things which are a symbol of an ideology that incompatible with western freedom and tolerance.
09:18 February 3, 2011 by JensS
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
16:18 February 3, 2011 by cheeba
The burka is little different from the Nun's habit, which has been familiar in Europe for centuries. Has no one else watched "The Sound of Music" ? The main differences seem to be that the Nun's habit contains some white trim and the burka conceals the face. Clearly the burka makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable for cultural reasons, but people should remember that you are talking about regulating how other people dress. You may not like their brand of Islam but you have the choice not to practice it. What comes next, compelling them to expose parts of their breast cleavage, to conform to "European Norms" ?
18:17 February 3, 2011 by LecteurX
KenVdM, you say "Make it a public ban, the Burka shouldn't be allowed in Europe point. For security reasons no one should have the right to conceal their face in public. Profiling and additional security checks should also be used to stop muslims in such areas as airports, train stations (etc...). "

I agree with you, the burqa is an absolutely dreadful thing and the world would be a better place without it altogether.

However, I'm a bit puzzled about your other suggestion. How would you enforce these "additional security checks" to "stop muslims" in airports and train stations? Do you mean stopping all muslims or just "many" of them? How would you recognize all of them? Just people looking "vaguely" like Arabs would be ok? It's impractical because you can't really tell who is muslim by just looking at them, because Indonesians don't look so much like Pakistanis who don't look that much like Kazakhs, who in turn look quite different from Lebanese people, or Somalis, or Moroccans... So what would you do? Do you think something more systematic and logical should do? Like forcing all muslims by law to wear some recognizable and distinctive signs? A badge maybe? Or a yellow crescent on their over-garments?

Cheeba, The Local reported, just a few weeks ago, that a German court ruled that employers can require their (female) employees to wear bras if they see it fit. Here's the link: http://www.thelocal.de/society/20110112-32375.html.

For me it's fine to have reasonable requirements on dresscode at work. And to me it's reasonable to remove burkas from our sight. It's a blatant regression. I love the Arab countries and the wonderful Arab people, I despise blind Islamophobes (KenVdM is one of them), but I have to disagree with you: if you let this particular "brand of Islam" have it its way, you soon would not have the choice "not to practice it". It's not exactly a tolerant form of Islam. Many muslims also denounce them as fanatics!
23:06 February 3, 2011 by William Thirteen
boy, i had no idea all the cranks would come out of the woodwork on this one. i don't think any employee of the state should have the right to hide their identity while on the clock. that's why we are requiring the cops to wear name badges here in Berlin. The state needs to be accountable to the people. Other than that people should be free to wear - or not wear - whatever they want - at least that's what i was taught was the meaning of 'western freedom and tolerance'. But if we are going to start legislating appearances - i make a motion that we get all the fatties off the streets, oh and those that insist on wearing baggy clothing to hide their flabby bits...
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