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Lower Saxony mulls burka ban for officials

The Local · 3 Feb 2011, 08:02

Published: 03 Feb 2011 08:02 GMT+01:00

After Hesse announced earlier this week it was banning burkas in the public service in response to a demand by a 39-year-old woman in a Frankfurt local administrative office to wear the face veil, the Lower Saxony government said it was examining a similar move.

“The burka has no place in the public service,” the state’s conservative Christian Democratic Interior Minister, Uwe Schünemann, told the Hannover daily Neue Presse.

“Lower Saxony is looking at the moment at some legal regulations both for employees and officials.”

He said federal parliamentarians were sitting on the fence on the issue.

Lower Saxony’s Integration and Social Affairs Minister Aygül Özkan, herself a Muslim, supports the ban.

“To wear a burka in an administrative office goes beyond the principle of tolerance,” she told the same paper. “Citizens must be able to have the right that a public servant shows their face.”

There was no indication from the Lower Saxony government that any employee in the state was planning to wear a burka.

On Wednesday, Hesse became the first German state to expressly ban the wearing of the full Muslim veil in public service jobs. The state’s Interior Minister Boris Rhein said public workers were obliged to be politically and religiously neutral. Veiled women conveyed the image that was not consistent with liberal and cosmopolitan values.

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It was acting in response to a casual employee of a Frankfurt Bürgeramt who had announced she intended to return to work from parenting leave wearing a full face veil.

In a sign that other states may act, Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann welcomed the Hesse ban.

DAPD/The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:58 February 3, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
well as an atheist, any elimination of remotely religious(ly affiliated) symbols in public is fine with me... but now what are they going to do about crucifixes in public buildings? Oh, silly me, I forgot, they are symbols of Germany's "Judeo-Christian lead culture"...
09:08 February 3, 2011 by Nathaniel
There is a difference. A cross doesn't cover your face and make it hard for people to communicate with you. That is the issue here, not expression of religion.
09:16 February 3, 2011 by JensS
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:27 February 3, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
the burka is still also a religious statement. To say that it violates women's rights is all good and well... it does... but that's just a bigoted, hypocritical excuse by those who in reality have quite a different agenda.
09:40 February 3, 2011 by freechoice
why people would like to dictate what others what they want to wear? you can find piercing and all tattoos on government employees. why can't the muslim wear their traditional clothings? don't germany respect human rights here?
09:52 February 3, 2011 by Grebo
Not being able to see ones face isn't a valid excuse in a world already well versed with faceless telecommunication.
10:16 February 3, 2011 by catjones
This issue is about the 2.5 women (I assume they are female) in the photo. Another Theo red herring.
10:37 February 3, 2011 by jamano
Look at the picture. Can you imagine such people working with clients in shops and other places?
12:17 February 3, 2011 by tallady
The Burka for women only,,,a statement of a male dominated society.
12:19 February 3, 2011 by michael4096
If someone cannot do a job, I see no problem with not giving them the job. When communicating freely with peers and the general public is part of the job description this ban makes sense

I've never seen a burka wearing shopkeeper - even in muslim countries. Which could be because I haven't looked hard enough, because women wearing burkas don't work or could be because the communication problems caused hurt sales
12:24 February 3, 2011 by SRaab
I think that if the woman is really ugly, (like Merkle) she should have to wear a burka.
13:30 February 3, 2011 by svenne101
i hate really this burqua.i would like to know the people who allowed this kind of people in germany. instead of engaging street fights with hardcore muslims i would like to see laws banning mosques and burquas and not eligible to get unemployed and child benefits.

wear a burqua, sit at home without job and breed terrorists that seems to be agenda.

because of this muslims, non muslim people aften getting problems.
14:15 February 3, 2011 by Willissteel
A wise man once said "It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere." I believe this wise man was voltaire. Here is another one..."As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities."
18:41 February 3, 2011 by LecteurX
Freechoice, you make a delicate point. However, we're talking about the workplace, aren't we? So if you care to scratch beneath the surface, you'll find the workplace is not oasis of freedom, and there are lots of restrictions on people's dresscode at work, whether plainly and publicly stated or implicitly understood.

It is plainly stated at the Berlin Police force that you CANNOT get a job there if you wear visible tattoos. They're fine as long as they are not visible under normal summer clothes or something. That's policy. Similarly, at Air France, you cannot work as a flight attendant if you have long hair (for men), and for women, there are severe restrictions on makeup for instance. So if your dream is a career as a flight attendant, you may have to sacrifice your dreadlocks or your favourite slutty makeup, or both.

So why all the trouble about some state administrations banning the burka in their offices? For whichever reason btw? We shouldn't bat an eyelid. Actually the reasons for banning the burka in a state administration are far better than those for banning tattoos at the Berlin police or for banning dreadlocks and bitchy makeup at Air France, in my humble opinion.

Svenne101 you're a xenophobe. What's all this about banning mosques? Lots and lots of muslims have problems in the world because of other muslims. Actually islamic terrorists are much likelier to kill other muslims than non muslims. And there are lots of muslims who also suffer because of non muslims, in Irak or in Palestine for example. What's your point exactly? All muslims are evil? Xenophobic dribble. People like you make the world a sad place.
17:44 February 5, 2011 by cheeba
"Veiled women conveyed the image that was not consistent with liberal and cosmopolitan values."

There is nothing neutral about demanding that government workers promote "cosmopolitan values" in the work place.

In many quarters cosmopolitanism is just as controversial as conservative brands of Islam.

And I am not only speaking of Muslims here.
19:21 February 7, 2011 by Ich
Way to go Hesse! If Muslim immigrants did not come to Europe (or America) to assimilate and enjoy its belssings, then exactly why did they come? Tolerance does not mean tolerating intolerance, and if isalm wants a legitimate place in the modern world, it will have to give up a lot of its obsolete notions, much as Christainity and even Judaism have, rather than inist that rational, secular, democratic cutlures revert back to some superstititious, autocratic, chauvinist 6th century notions, esepcially about men and wemen, just to prove how tolernat we in West are. After all, we didn't close down every Mosque and deport every muslim after 9/11, right? I think it's time for muslims to rethink just what kind of a world their religion is creating and where it all might ultimately be headed. The key to tolerance is compromise, and the burgqua has become a symbol of muslim intransigence. I'd ask muslims, is wearing that silly thing worth it? Because if it is, what are you really trying to do, here? You know could just wear a scarf over head, like many arab muslims do, and compromise. You don't have to push this, unless your goals aren't what they seem.
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