Angela Merkel, through the Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere [official profiles, in German], said on Friday that women should be banned from wearing a face veil in various areas, including in school and while driving. On the partial face veil ban, which is part of a larger security declaration presented by the regional interior ministers for Merkel’s Christian Democrats and (CDU) the Christian Social Union (CSU), Maiziere said [Reuters report] the veils have no place in Germany society Though Merkel and other German conservatives have been open about wanting a face veil ban, Maiziere stated they were aware a full ban would not be allowed in the country’s constitutional court. The statement is issued on the cusp of Germany’s state elections and at a time where Merkel has lost significant public support over immigration. Those in opposition, including Social Democrat (SPD) Labour Minister Andrea Nahles, have said the calls show an “increasingly xenophobic” discourse within the country. Germany’s population is comprised of only five percent of the population and very few women actually wear a burqa in the country.
Face veils and other symbols of religion have been a controversial subject around the world. Last month, the European Union’s [official website] highest court ruled in favor [JURIST report] of a French woman who was fired for wearing a head scarf. Last year the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] in favor of a Muslim woman who was denied a job [JURIST report] at Abercrombie & Fitch [corporate website] because of her headscarf. In September a Canadian court ruled that women may be allowed to wear [JURIST report] face-covering veils while swearing the oath of citizenship after an individual sued the country because she was not allowed to take part in the ceremony. Also in 2015, after suicide bombings in Fotokol by two women wearing burkas, Northern Cameroon banned [JURIST report] women from wearing burkas and face-covering veils as the bombs had been smuggled into public under veils. In July 2014 the European Court of Human Rights ruled [JURIST report] that France’s face covering ban is permissible under European law and complies with all articles of the Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and does not violate freedom of religion. In February 2013 the Spanish Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a city ban on wearing veils over the face in municipal buildings, finding that the law infringes on religious freedom.