30% of Germans call for burqa ban in public places, 51% want complete prohibition – poll

© Reuters
The majority of Germans who took part in a recent ARD poll want the burqa and the niqab banned in some public places, while every second respondent wants the Islamic veils prohibited entirely as the German government mulls banning the attire.

In a poll conducted for the broadcaster, Deutschland Trend surveyed 1,008 German adults, asking for their opinion on a proposal to ban full-body veils worn by some Muslim women. The idea was floated a week ago by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who said that wearing a full veil in Germany “does not belong in our cosmopolitan country,” while announcing that “a legal requirement to show one’s face in places where it is necessary for our society’s coexistence” will be introduced for government approval shortly.

Over half of the respondents, 51 percent, said that the full-body veil should be prohibited completely, while 30 percent supported partial bans on burqas and niqabs in public places, such as government institutions and schools. Only 15 percent of the people interviewed rejected the idea of any sort of ban “as a matter of principle.”

While the poll revealed that only 12 percent view migrant integration as a priority for the country, one quarter of the respondents said the most pressing topic for Germany was domestic security and the fight against terrorism.

About five million Muslims live in Germany, making up five percent of the total population. The burqa, a full-face veil, and the niqab, a full veil that only leaves a small opening for the eyes, are both pieces of clothing traditionally worn by women adhering to certain conservative interpretations of Islam.

The ban proposed by de Maiziere would target only veils being worn in public places and offices, such as “schools, universities, kindergartens and child care institutions, government offices and courts, registration offices, passport and transport controls.” It would also prohibit wearing full-body veils at rallies and demonstrations, as well as for people driving a vehicle.

De Maiziere stressed that the restriction would not be a “blanket ban” like those proposed by the right wing of Merkel’s ruling Christian Union bloc or rival (and strongly anti-immigrant) AfD party. He also predicted that it would “likely win approval” in parliament. Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed full support for “finding the right political and legal balance” with regard to the ban.

German law respects freedom of religion on a national level, and so far the only places the face-coverings have been restricted are government institutions, where they are banned along with other religious symbols due to the government’s commitment to secularism.

Meanwhile, it’s not only in Germany that Muslim attire has been increasingly coming under fire lately.

In July, the Swiss canton of Ticino issued its first two fines to two people who had violated a newly-imposed law applying to both locals and tourists that bans Muslim women from wearing burqas in public places. In April, an adult education center in a Copenhagen suburb told six female Muslim students that they could no longer attend classes wearing their niqabs. France and Belgium have banned the niqab and the burqa nationwide, and the garments are also forbidden in public in parts of Switzerland and Italy.