Raising the possibility of a nationwide ban on burqas, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a tough crackdown on “full veil” religious coverings Tuesday, a move that adds her nation to a growing list of European countries taking steps to limit the traditional Islamic covering.
“The full veil is not appropriate here, it should be forbidden wherever that is legally possible. It does not belong to us,” she said.
The statement by Merkel, who has served as Germany’s chancellor since 2005, was a bit of a surprise, as she has been a strong advocate among Western leaders for support of refugees — Germany accepted hundreds of thousands of them last year — and religious tolerance.
What gives with this seeming 180 by Mrs. Merkel? Well, refugee resettlement has been a disaster for Germany, and it is election season –
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.
The political winds are finally shifting, away from political correctness taking precedence over global security. Alas, the United States, even under Trump, will probably be the last Western nation to enact a burqa ban, and probably not until a serious tragedy has occurred …