For the very first time, the usually welcoming German Chancellor Angela Merkel heeded her party’s call to implement a partial ban on the Muslim full-face veil, the burqa and the niqab.
While making a pitch for a fourth term as chancellor in Essen, Germany, Merkel announced to delegates at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) conference the “full veil is inappropriate and should be banned wherever it is legally possible.”
Her CDU party is expected this week to pass a motion proposing a ban on some official and public settings, like schools, courts, road traffic and during police checks. The law would also make it criminal to wear the veil while driving or taking part in a protest.
However, they admit a full ban, like the one introduced in France, would be against the German constitution.
“Our law takes precedence over codes of honor, tribal or family rules, and over sharia law — that has to be spelled out clearly,” Merkel said, explaining her decision to support the partial ban. “This also means that it is important to show face when people communicate.”
Merkel faced a lot of backlash for allowing almost a million refugees to enter into the country and her popularity suffered a setback by growing anti-migrant sentiments, many of them pushed by right-leaning parties who believed Islam had no place in the German society.
Critics believe the sudden change from her usual freedom-of-religion rhetoric is because of the pressure of wanting to run for the fourth term, which is making her pander to the far right.
They also pointed out Germany has far bigger fish to fry than policing women’s clothing.
“What hypocrisy! To demand a burqa ban but to studiously conduct arms sales to the exporters of the burqa," Sevim Dagdelen, a member of the Bundestag's Foreign Affairs Committee for the Left party, tweeted, noting that women who wear burqas or other face veils often come from the countries that most eagerly buy German weapons.