German minister to propose ban on full face veils in wake of attacks

Burqa and niqab to be proscribed as part of plan to raise police numbers, boost surveillance and tighten dual nationality rules

Germanys interior minister will propose a number of security measures, including a ban on the full face veil for women, in reaction to growing concerns about violent attacks in the country.

According to German media, the measures, which the interior ministry will try to turn into law before national elections in 2017, include boosting police numbers and video surveillance at railway stations and airports, making it easier for doctors to break confidentiality agreements if their patients are planning criminal acts, and tightening rules around obtaining dual nationality.

The federal interior minister, the Christian Democrat (CDU) MP Thomas de Maizire, is expected to present details of a number of initiatives on Thursday, with the official presentation of the so-called Berlin declaration to follow at a conference of German state interior ministers on 18 August.

Thomas de Maizire. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, southern Germany saw a spate of violent attacks, three of which involved asylum seekers and two of which were later claimed by Islamic State.

A ban on full face veils worn by some Muslim women, similar to the ban on face covering passed in France, was recently proposed by Jens Spahn, one of the up-and-coming figures on the right wing of Angela Merkels party.

A ban on the full veil, ie the niqab and the burqa, is overdue and would be a signal to the world, the CDU politician told Die Welt newspaper at the end of July. I dont want to encounter a burqa in this country. In that sense I am burqaphobic.

His position has been supported by the CDU candidate for the forthcoming Berlin state elections, Frank Henkel, who told the local Tagesspiegel newspaper: I consider a ban on the burqa absolutely desirable.

The ban on the full veil as well as the revoking of laws around dual nationality are likely to prove highly controversial and could run into legal difficulty.

Gkay Sofuoglu, the national chair of the Turkish community in Germany, described the proposal as populist. How would one go about putting that into practice? Burqas are at the most worn by tourists from Saudi-Arabia, Sofuoglu told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper.

Frank Tempel, of leftwing party Die Linke who is a deputy chair of the federal committee for internal affairs, said in particular the proposal to ban the burqa was pandering to the pub room chatter of the far-right Alternative fr Deutschland.

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