German state imposes veil ban on civil servants

Civil servants in the central German state of Hesse are now forbidden from wearing burqas. The announcement came Wednesday after a city employee in Frankfurt communicated that she would not reveal her face when she returned from maternity leave.

“Civil servants may not be veiled, especially those who have contact with citizens,” Hesse’s Interior Minister Boris Rhein said Wednesday after the woman’s attorney and the city agreed she would not return to work on Tuesday and would remain home until the situation was sorted out. Rhein added that, while a headscarf was allowed, the donning of a burqa could be perceived as “hostile to Western values.”

The city of Frankfurt had told the mother of four – who previously did not wear a burqa to work – that she must choose between the veil and her job. City staff department head Markus Frank justified the decision, saying “our employees show their faces. That is a basic requirement for building trust.”

Deutsche Welle, 2 February 2011