German interior minister calls for ban on face veils
Europe’s battle over public attire for Muslim women moved Friday from the outcry over banning “burkinis” in France to a call from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing bloc for a ban in Germany on face veils in schools and universities and while driving.
The German proposal, announced by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, was driven by an intensifying political season and a surge in support for the right since Germany accepted more than 1 million refugees last year. There has been mounting public anxiety over integrating the refugees, who are mostly Muslim.
The German plan arrives on the heels of a heated debate in France over the burkini — a fullbody swimsuit with a head covering — since a handful of cities joined the mayor of Cannes in banning the garment from city beaches.
De Maiziere and Merkel stopped short of calling for an outright ban on the burqa, but the proposal put forward Friday tiptoes along a path the French traveled down with a 2010 law that barred any covering that hides the face.
The German plan would not ban shawls or abayas that cover the body. It is not clear whether the proposal will become law.