A regional official of Germany’s ruling CDU has demanded a ban on burkas in public places. The Rhineland-Palatinate official has reasoned that the veil is more a sign of suppression of women than of religious diversity.
On Monday, Julia Klöckner, deputy chief of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Rhineland-Palatinate, spoke in favor of banning the burka, a head-to-toe veil worn by women in some Islamic cultures that covers the whole body other than the eyes.
She told the German newspaper Rheinische Post that, for her, burkas “did not stand for religious diversity, but for a degrading image of women.” She said that the German constitution emphasized that women and men were of equal value and that “looking at people’s faces” also belonged to the culture of an open society.
According to Klöckner, burkas suggest that women needed to be under the veil because they would otherwise cause offense. Klöckner asserted that the “male observer” was the problem in this case and not the woman.
The former CDU Bundestag member also received support from her colleague Jens Spahn, who said that most migrants were well-versed in German values, but that there were “parallel worlds” in parts of some cities. For Spahn, belonging to a different religion was no excuse for giving up values like freedom of opinion, protection of minorities or gender equality.
Last week, Axel Schäfer, a Bundestag deputy for the Social Democrats – the junior party in the ruling coalition – called for a similar prohibition of the garment and said it wasn’t part of German culture.
German politicians have repeatedly called for a ban on the burka in the past months, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice, which upheld France’s decision to ban the veil. Belgium also prohibits wearing the full-body garment in public.
Several German states already prohibit women working in public functions, especially schools and offices, from wearing the burka.