German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a dramatic shift in the country’s stance on Muslim migrant integration in Germany by stating during the Conservative CDU party’s convention that “the full Burka (a garment which covers most of the body) is not suitable here” and added that she would initiate legislation against it.
Merkel made headlines in 2011 when Hesse, a state run by her Christian Democrat party became the first German region to ban Muslim face veils for public sector workers.
But her new approach is a significant departure from her previous policy which was to promote immigration and support Muslim migrants’ integration in the country.
A few months ago Merkel was quoted as saying that the Burka is incompatible with integration in society for Muslim women, stating that “from my point of view, a completely covered woman has almost no chance of integrating herself in Germany,” but at the time, she did not call for steps to ban it.
Now Merkel believes that the Burka should be banned in places where it is permitted, as it “does not suit our country.” If Germany does ban Burkas it will be following Holland, where the Muslim womens’ garb was banned in schools and hospitals, as well as France and Belgium which prohibited it before that.
Only a small minority of Muslim women in Europe cover their faces, but their veils have become symbols for Europeans troubled by problems such as the economic crisis, mass immigration and Muslim integration.
Merkel also announced that she is “determined to ensure” that the wave of immigrants last year- numbering 890,000 asylum seekers – would not repeat itself this year.
Merkel’s words come in advance of new elections in which pollsters predict that her party has a steady lead, although slightly less than the 41.5% support it garnered in 2013. Merkel, however, will face a tough fight with the ADF (Alternative Germany) party which has attacked Merkel’s policies on refugees.