German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she believes the full Islamic face veil or “burqa” has no place in her country and should be banned. Critics have pointed to her announcement, made at the Christian Democratic Party conference, as an attempt to shore up her conservative base after announcing she would seek another term as German leader.
Having presided over the open border policies leading to Europe’s migrant crisis, the Cologne mass sexual assault scandal, a surge in migrant criminality and more, Mrs. Merkel appears to have had a swift change of heart and has called for a burqa ban “where legally possible”.
Speaking as her own Christian Democratic Party (CDU) voted on whether to re-elect her as leader to go forward to challenge for the German Chancellor, Mrs. Merkel vowed the migrant crisis which has been a defining feature of her administration “should never be repeated”.
Emphasising the importance of integration of the hundreds of thousands of new arrivals to Germany over the past months and the primacy of German law over “tribal rules” and Sharia codes, the Chancellor also supported a Burqa ban.
For Germans, integration means to “show your face”, she said, adding the “full face veil is not acceptable in our country” and that she believed there should be a ban “where legally possible”, reports Die Welt.
Mrs. Merkel received a standing ovation for her comments, made at the party conference in Essen in western Germany.
The notional support for a ban comes after remarks earlier this year when she said “for me, a completely covered woman has almost no chance of integrating”, and calls by several members of her own party for a ban.
Speaking in August, German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said: “We agree that we reject the burqa.
“We agree that we want to introduce a legal requirement to show one’s face in places where it is necessary for our society’s coexistence – at the wheel, at public offices, at the registry office, in schools and universities, in the civil service, in court”.
But Mrs. Merkel’s remarks that the burqa should be banned “where legally possible”, combined with a legal consensus that a total ban would be difficult to enact, suggests that the Chancellor’s view aligns with that of her deputy and the burqa would be banned in public buildings, schools, and courts.
And migrants to Germany are not the only group whose behavior Mrs. Merkel wanted to see changed.
Turning to those who post online messages that are anti-mass migration and “hate messages” on social media, Mrs. Merkel said: “Sometimes you have the impression that some who have been living here for a long time in Germany urgently need integration courses”.
ELECTION RED MEAT?
Mrs. Merkel’s tough talk comes as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party continues to perform well in the polls.
Campaigning on a strong anti-mass migration platform which includes a burka, halal, and minaret ban as well as strong border controls, the party has been a threat to Merkel’s CDU — doing well in the recent Berlin local elections at the Mrs. Merkel’s expense.
If Germany enacted a burqa ban it would join other European nations including France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, who have also enacted full or partial restrictions.
Mrs. Merkel’s apparent tack to the right, or toward a more anti-Islam standpoint will no doubt confound her supporters in the political and media establishment.
Less than one month as the New York Times declared the German leader to be the “Liberal West’s Last Defender”, while Europhile, multi-culturalism obsessive Ken Clarke lauded her as a liberal, stating: “She is head and shoulders the best politician the western world has produced in the last 10 to 20 years”.
Even the Spectator magazine, formerly on the political right, stated: “Love her or loathe her, at least she knows what she’s doing, and that’s more than can be said for some new players on the world stage,” while the hard-left Slate news outlet called her the “Last Best Hope for European Liberalism”.
How an overtly conservative, illiberal policy like a burqa ban will change the establishment’s opinion of Mrs. Merkel remains to be seen.