German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the wearing of full-faced veils should be prohibited in the country “wherever it is legally possible”.
To loud applause, Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party members on Tuesday that Germany should ban full-face veils “wherever legally possible” and that it would not tolerate any application of Shariah law over German justice.
At a meeting of her CDU party, she backed a burka ban in schools, courts and other state buildings.
Accepting her party’s nomination as its candidate for another four-year term, the chancellor used the moment to broaden her stance on banning the veil, trying to deflect challenges from far-right forces that have made some of their deepest gains since World War II.
In the 80-minute speech, she repeated the same catalog of beliefs in freedom and equal treatment she had made as an implicit criticism of President-elect Donald J. Trump, but also stiffened her position on the veil and suggested that Germany would be more cautious in welcoming migrants in the future.
Watch The Video :
In a clear nod to criticism that the state had appeared to lose control over its borders, the chancellor opened her speech to the annual conference of her Christian Democratic Union with a promise that such a situation “cannot, may not and should not be repeated.”
She has seen her approval ratings slip since her decision to allow about a million asylum seekers into Germany during last year’s Europe-wide migrant crisis.
However the centre-right chancellor, who has been power since 2005, still retains wide support.
She was re-elected Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader on Tuesday with 89.5% of the votes cast by about 1,000 delegates.
Mrs Merkel’s comments drew thunderous applause from her party faithful but it will dismay those who have looked to her as Europe’s defender of liberal values.
German constitutional law would probably prevent the CDU from seeking a complete ban on burkas in public. Nevertheless, Mrs Merkel made her distaste for full face veils clear.
In practice, very few women cover their faces in Germany. But this is about symbolism. Mrs Merkel has faced significant party and public anxiety about the integration of about a million asylum seekers.
She has gradually hardened her asylum policy, making it easier, for example, to deport foreign-born criminals. And this is also about timing. Tuesday’s speech in effect sets out the CDU stall ahead of next year’s general election.
Mrs Merkel’s conservatives, like other established parties, are losing votes to the AfD. Even she admits this will be the toughest election she has ever fought.