A German pub landlord received a slew of abuse online slamming him as “Hitler’s successor” and a “racist” after refusing to serve a woman while she was wearing a full Islamic face veil.
Christian Schulz, landlord of the Seekrug pub in the west German town of Bielefeld, told local media that he initially asked woman to remove her niqab, which leaves only a small opening for the eyes. The woman refused, becoming abusive and shouting angrily at him, so he asked her to leave the premises.
The incident happened on Saturday night, when hundreds people were gathered in the pub to celebrate the Festival of 1000 Lights.
“She was dressed entirely in black and completely covered up. You could only see her eyes,” Mr Schulz told Westfalen Blatt newspaper.
“I know that many of our customers get a queasy feeling around fully veiled women.”
When he asked her to remove the veil, she replied: “You must have a textile allergy. I’ll keep the veil on. My faith requires it.” He then asked her to leave, and his wife exchanged a few words with the woman, who left cursing.
“From her language I’d say she was a German,” he said.
He insists he was acting out of fear for the safety of his other customers, but within hours of the incident the pub’s Facebook page was inundated with abusive posts, calling him a “racist” and “Hitler’s successor”.
Others left negative reviews on the page, accusing the pub of being “dirty” and “unhygienic,” and staff of being “unhelpful.”
But Mr Shultz denies racism, saying that he has thrown out neo-Nazis in the past. He immediately changed his profile photo on Facebook to one of himself with his African chef George.
Locals have also rallied round, countering the negative online comments with supportive messages of their own, prompting Shultz to comment: “I am especially pleased that the positive comments are coming from ordinary people, and not from far-right people jumping on the bandwagon.”
Thomas Keitel, Managing Director of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association in Westphalia-Lippe, said on Wednesday: “I’ve never known a case quite like this.
“We fully support Mr Schulz, of course, the house has the right to choose who to serve.
“A full-face veil is probably acceptable in public, but it is understandable that people are uneasy when in the vicinity of a woman wearing the garment, and that a landlord would want to spare his customers from this.
He added: “The shit-storm on the internet is not good.”
The row comes in the midst of a heated debate in Germany over the wearing of the veil in public. While the government is proposing a partial ban in schools and universities, many people want to see a total ban, as in France.
Many Germans are nervous of those wearing the veil in public, particularly after a suicide bomber targeted a crowd at a music festival over the summer, injuring twelve.