Bavaria set to ban veils
Bavaria has few Muslims. Source: Pixabay
The state of Bavaria is to ban full-face veils in schools, polling stations, universities and government offices as heated debate continues over a Germany-wide law.
Joachim Herrman, the Bavarian interior minister, said the burqa and niqab were incompatible with German “communication culture”, after the state cabinet adopted the bill.
Critics say the ban will have little practical impact in a state with few Muslims and the move is to do with the regional government positioning itself ahead of this year’s federal elections.
Bavaria’s ruling conservatives, the Christian Social Union (CSU) fear a challenge from the anti-immigrant, populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the autumn polls.
The CSU is the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). It holds an absolute majority in the regional parliament, so the legislation looks set to be enacted before the summer.
“A culture of open communication with one another is part of the free and democratic understanding of Christian values,” the minister told the media.
“Communication happens not only via language but also via looks, facial expressions and gestures. It forms the foundation for our interactions with each other is the basis of our free and democratic order.
“Concealing your face goes against this culture of communication.”
The proposed ban, would apply to universities, schools, nurseries, government offices, public buildings, polling stations and sites deemed sensitive to security. Hermann said politicians and civil servants should be “particularly committed to neutrality” and that facial identification was necessary during elections.
The bill would see the niqab (face-covering veil) and burqa (face and body veil) banned in polling stations where identity is key.
“Our children must be able to gauge the reaction of their counterparts. It is important for teachers to be able to look their pupils in the eyes, for example to better evaluate attention and cooperation.”
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that no state civil servants would be affected by the ban, according to Herrman, although he said it was important that legislation was in place to keep the veil out of public spaces.
Green MP Ulrike Gote, who opposed the ban, told the paper it “solved a problem we don’t have” and was merely a political gesture that implied that Muslims posed a threat to Germany.