Conservative German interior ministers call for partial burqa ban

Interior ministers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative political bloc called Friday for a ban on burqas in parts of public life.

"We reject the full-face veil," Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in Berlin after a two-day meeting of state interior ministers from Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their allied Bavarian party.

"The obligation to showing a person's face is fundamental to living together in our society," said de Maiziere.

The ministers said they believe being able to see a person's face was essential in public service, driving vehicles, in kindergartens, schools, universities, in courtrooms as well as during controls for passports and at demonstrations.

Their call to restrict the garment worn by some Muslim women still has to be agreed to by the other parties that form coalitions with Merkel's CDU at the state and national levels before it can be implemented by the nation's parliaments.

Bavarian Premier and CSU chief Horst Seehofer called for the swift introduction of the interior ministers' agreement.

The accord was "a milestone for more public safety," said Seehofer, whose Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann attended the talks in Berlin.

Violations of such a ban, which includes all full-face veils such as the burqa and niqab, should be punished as a misdemeanor, said Lorenz Caffier, the interior minister from the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Both France and Belgium have taken action to ban the full veil in all public places. However, De Maiziere has rejected a general ban on the face veil.

"From my perspective, women wearing the full veil in Germany have little chance to integrate," Merkel told the media group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland on Thursday.

Ensuring public safety and allaying fears about terrorism have moved up the political agenda in Germany after the nation was shaken last month by a series of violent incidents, including two Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks.

De Maiziere has already set out a package of measures aimed at beefing up the nation's security services and increasing the numbers of police officers.

"We need more police, not only on the roads but also on computers and in the special forces," said de Maiziere.

"We want to make Germany even more secure in the long term," Caffier told Friday's press conference.

The meeting of the conservative ministers came ahead of two key state elections next month - in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the city-state of Berlin.

The established parties including the CDU as well as the left-leaning Social Democrats are facing a challenge in both states from the right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany, which has attacked Berlin's policy on refugees.

The conservative ministers also want to review the existing rules on holding dual citizenship in Germany with de Maiziere saying dual citizenship should only be granted in exceptional cases.

Last update: Fri, 19/08/2016 - 16:31
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