Bowing to public pressure, Merkel calls for partial burka ban in Germany

Similar approach to Quebec’s law 62 focussing on the public sector. Hard to disagree with the sentiment that parallel societies are generally undesirable, whatever the religion, ethnicity or ideology from an integration and social cohesion/inclusion perspective. However, one can question whether a ban is the appropriate response, or only requiring the face to be revealed for identity authentication (e.g., identity cards, airport security):

For months, as the Western political establishment shook around her, German Chancellor Angela Merkel remained a stolid and increasingly lonely champion of liberal values. But on Tuesday, she joined those chipping at the idea of “live and let live” liberalism, embracing a populist call for a partial ban on the head-to-toe burka.

The proposed ban comes less than three weeks after Ms. Merkel announced she would seek a fourth term as Chancellor in parliamentary elections expected next September. It also comes days after Italian voters forced the resignation of their prime minister, and in the wake of both Donald Trump’s shocking run to the White House, and Britain’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union.

Speaking Tuesday to a conference of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union – which faces a threat on its right flank from the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (also known by its German acronym, AfD) – Ms. Merkel took aim at “parallel societies” that she said were forming in Germany. Borrowing from the rhetoric of the AfD and other populist parties on the rise around the continent, she said the full-face veil “should be banned wherever it is legally possible.”

“We do not want any parallel societies, and where they exist we have to tackle them,” she said to loud applause from party delegates gathered in the city of Essen. She specifically named sharia, an Islamic legal code based on a strict interpretation of the Koran. “Our laws have priority over honour codes, tribal and family rules, and over sharia. That has to be expressed very clearly.”

Ms. Merkel – who was re-elected as the CDU leader on Tuesday with just under 90-per-cent support – said the full-face veil inhibited “inter-human communication” and “was not appropriate” in Germany.

The remarks were a move away from the role many had hoped to see Ms. Merkel assume following Mr. Trump’s election win.

On a recent trip to Berlin, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the German Chancellor as his “closest international partner,” leading to talk Ms. Merkel would – by default – become the voice and de facto leader of Western liberals.

The burka-ban proposal is a reminder that Ms. Merkel has always been a pragmatist first.

In reality, only a small minority of the estimated five million Muslims living in Germany wear the full burka. (A 2008 government-funded study found 28 per cent of German Muslims wore some kind of head covering; that figure includes those who wear the hijab, the much more common headscarf that covers the hair but not the face).

The proposed ban would likely only apply to schools, courts and other government buildings, as any wider restriction would seem to violate the country’s constitution.

The true aim of Ms. Merkel’s move against the burka is to soothe public anger over her decision last year to welcome into Germany hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries. The country has struggled – both culturally and bureaucratically – to process the new arrivals.

Source: Bowing to public pressure, Merkel calls for partial burka ban in Germany – The Globe and Mail

Advertisements

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: