State interior ministers for the conservative Union parties (Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union) are calling for greater restrictions on Muslims living in Germany, including a burqa ban, as politicians mull tougher anti-terror policies.
A draft proposal supported by the interior ministers and seen by Tagesspiegel posits, among other things, implementing a ban on the burqa – a garment worn by some Muslim women which covers the whole body – as well as restrictions on how mosques are financed.
“I find a burqa ban absolutely welcome,” Berlin’s senator for the interior, Frank Henkel, told newspaper Tagesspiegel.
The proposal – which has already been criticized for reportedly suggesting a softening of doctor-patient confidentiality rules and ending dual citizenship – is set to be presented on August 18th.
“Freedom of religion is a central, fundamental right. However, religious extremism and the abuse of religious symbols have no place in Germany,” the draft reads.
At the same time, the proposal calls for a “return to… mutual respect”.
“Freedom of expression is for us non-negotiable. The brutalization of our language and in particular hateful messages posted on social media will not be tolerated. We need to return to our civic virtues. Respect, courtesy and mutual consideration of one another are the foundations for a peaceful coexistence,” the proposal states.
Members of the Die Linke (Left Party) have already voiced criticism of the draft proposals. Bundestag Left Party member Frank Tempel told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that a burqa ban proposal has nothing to do with fighting terrorism.
Tempel said that while he did not necessarily like the idea of seeing lots of women wearing burqas due to women's rights, “one cannot counter this with a ban”.
“You have to communicate, you have to try to change certain worldviews, but this is done through dialogue and not through bans,” Tempel said.
Dual citizens ‘should leave Germany’
The interior ministers cite the recent Islamist-linked attacks in southern Germany, as well as right- and left-wing violence as concerning security risks. But immigrants seemed to be the focus of the draft, according to Tagesspiegel.
“Uncontrolled immigration and with that the link to people smuggling create unease within the population and simplify the process of sneaking into Europe for criminals and violent Islamist criminals,” the draft states.
Other security measures proposed are hiring more police, increasing the powers of intelligence agencies and quicker deportation processes. Dual nationality also appears to be on the chopping block for the interior ministers.
“Dual citizenship is a huge obstacle for integration,” the proposal states. “We object to this split loyalty. Whoever wants to engage themselves with the politics of foreign governments, we would advise to leave Germany. We call for people to make a conscious choice for the values of our free, democratic constitutional order.”