German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday endorsed [Guardian video] a partial ban on burqas and niqabs. Merkel said that “the full facial veil is inappropriate and should be banned wherever is legally possible.” The chancellor’s party, the Christian Democratic Union [party website], is expected to pass a motion proposing a ban in some ares of public life such as courts, schools and police checks. The full ban is seen as incompatible with German law. This is the first time Merkel has fully supported such a ban. This speech comes after Merkel stated she would run for a fourth term and after backlash from her own party after accepting refugees from Middle Eastern countries. Opponents say that the ban will have little effect as very few women wear the full veil and most of the areas that will ban such usage already do.
Face veils and other symbols of religion have been a controversial subject around the world. Last week the Netherlands legislature voted in favor [JURIST report] of a similar partial burka ban. In July the EU’s 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 ruled [opinion, PDF] in favor of a Muslim woman who was denied a job [JURIST report] at Abercrombie & Fitch because of her headscarf. In September 2015 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.