German state prohibits female Islamic clothing in public institutions

World Today

German state prohibits female Islamic clothing in public institutions

On August 1st, a state in southern Germany implemented a partial ban on the burqa and other pieces of traditional Islamic clothing. Women are prohibited from wearing them in some public spaces.

CGTN’s Natalie Carney reports from Munich.
Follow Natalie Carney on Twitter @NatalieCarney77

The conservative Catholic state of Bavaria nestled at the northern feet of the Alps, close to the border with Austria has become the main gateway into Germany for well over a million asylum seekers and refugees.

Some have come from volatile Muslim countries and wear the niqab, a garment covering the face apart from the eyes or burqa, which covers the body.

According to Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, Women wearing these garments are hindering communication and public safety.

So they are now banned in public institutions, such as government workplaces, schools, universities and while driving.

The full face veil is only banned from certain public spaces, so technically they can still be worn on the street, but the move does add Germany to a growing list of European countries, such as France, Austria and Belgium that have made moves to limit the traditional Islamic covering.

In June, Norway became the latest European nation to propose restrictions on covering the face.

And in March, the European Union’s top Court passed a ruling allowing European companies the right to ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols including the Islamic headscarf.

Marwan Muhammad, Executive Director, Collective against Islamophobia said, “This is not acceptable in 2017. So much has been done for human rights, for religious freedoms, for women’s rights also, and we cannot accept this decision as a permit to discriminate.”

The southern state’s decision follows German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call to ban the dress across the country: an attempt, many analysts believe, to appease those critical of her move to allow in more than 1 million refugees in 2015.

Despite the controversy, Bavarian public opinion appears in favor of it.

Aristokles Stavos, a Munich resident said, “This is correct in my opinion… what has this to do with religion We are in Germany, in Europe, one should adapt a little bit… there is nothing like that here.”

July Weber, a Munich resident said, “It has much to do with knowledge of human nature…you can evaluate a person better. And it is really very human and you should be visible.”

“Women should do what they want to do since they have their own will, but if you talk to someone, like the both of us right now, I like it very much, when we can look each other in the eyes. And I think that in certain professions it is a must, to create trust and to confirm the direct contact, to see the face and also the eyes,” Johannes Haufmann, a Munich resident said.

Yet many are also calling this a “non-issue”, considering fewer than 300 women living in Bavaria wear a full-face veil according to local media. They also note that the majority of covered women seen here are likely wealthy tourists boosting the area’s economy.

However, the issue could have much greater implications on voters when they go to the polls in federal elections this September.