Europe

German parliament moves to partially ban the burka

Burkas being worn in Germany (file photo) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Germany has not pursued a total ban on full-face veils as it would violate its constitution

Members of the lower house of parliament in Germany have approved a law that partially bans the full-face Islamic veil known as the burka.

The bill will now go to the upper house for approval. Civil servants, judges and soldiers will be prevented from wearing burkas at work.

Right-wing parties had been pushing for a total burka ban in public places.

More than a million migrants, including many Middle Eastern Muslims, have gone to Germany over the past 18 months.

There have been several jihadist attacks, including a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that claimed 12 lives.

The burka is a strict Muslim veil for women that covers the full head and body. Not many people in Germany wear it.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In parts of Germany, concerns about terror attacks and Muslim migration have coalesced around the issue - or, as critics say, the non-issue - of the face veil
Image copyright AFP
Image caption German broadcaster ARD was recently criticised for allowing a Swiss woman to wear the niqab on a TV debate

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the move to ban the burka showed how far tolerance towards other cultures would go in Germany.

Right-wing parties want Germany to emulate France where a total ban on wearing burkas in public places as has been in force since 2011.

Last December Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a ban on full-face veils wherever legally possible, saying they were not appropriate in her country.

In February, the state of Bavaria announced plans to ban the full-face veil in government workplaces, schools, universities and while driving.

Critics argued the ban will have little practical impact in a state with only a small number of Muslims.

Rising number of bans

Germany has not pursued a total ban on full-face veils as it is acknowledged this would violate its constitution.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, said the move to ban the burka showed how far tolerance towards other cultures would go in Germany

There has been a rise in the number of European nations banning the full-face veil over recent years.

France, Austria, Belgium and Turkey have all imposed a ban in certain public spaces.

Legislation supporting a ban is in progress in the Netherlands, while local bans apply in other nations including Denmark, Russia, Spain and Switzerland.

Related Topics

More on this story