A German state yesterday became the first region in the country to ban Muslim women from wearing burkas.
The country has been gripped for several months by an angry debate on multiculturalism with many Germans voicing their concerns over immigration.
Hesse, a state run by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, has now became the first German region to ban Muslim face veils for public sector workers.
Hesse Interior Minister Boris Rheinsaid it was ‘not acceptable’ for a teacher in Frankfurt to wear a face veil because ‘public sector workers are obligated to have neutral religious and political views’.
The decision was prompted by a local teacher who had told her school she wanted to wear a burka in the classroom after returning from maternity leave. She had not previously worn one.
Debates about outlawing burkas have spread across Europe after France banned the Muslim face veils.
Only a small minority of Muslim women in Europe cover their faces, but their veils have become symbols for Europeans troubled by problems such as the economic crisis, immigration and Muslim integration.
A poll last year showed 61 percent of Germans favoured a burka ban. Ban supporters include a Catholic bishop in Bavaria, and also the country’s most prominent feminist, Alice Schwarzer.
But Germany’s interior and justice ministers have opposed a ban.
Critics of a ban suggest that Western democratic values should allow Muslims to wear veils.
It is feared that such a move could cause a backlash among Germany’s 4.1 million Muslims.
Germany has the highest number of Muslims in Europe ahead of France which has around 3.5million and Britain with 2.8million, according to the The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Chancellor Angela Merkel sparked outrage in October last year when she said that multiculturalism in Germany had ‘utterly failed’.
In a landmark speech, she broke one of Germany’s last taboos and courted anti-immigration support by claiming those from a different background failed to live happily side-by-side with native Germans.
She said that the concept where people would ‘live side-by-side’ did not work and immigrants needed to do more to integrate.
Merkel followed the speech with more comments a short time later by saying that more immigrants should work for the state.
Germany’s former central banker, Thilo Sarrazin, inflamed opinion by claiming that Arabs sponged off the state and refused to integrate.
Sarrazin’s controversial book ‘Germany Does Away With Itself’ has added to the anti-Islamic feelings in Germany.
In particular he singles out Muslims for failing to integrate and having low IQs.
This influx, he claims, has been going on virtually since the war while the birthrate of native Germans has been steadily falling.
He asserts the result has been a ‘dramatic fall’ in literacy and numeracy. ‘Germany is becoming more stupid,’ he said.
‘Muslims immigrants don’t integrate as well as other immigrant groups across Europe. The reasons for this are apparently not based on their ethnicity,
but are rooted in their culture of Islam,’ he told Welt am Sonntag
Since then some of of Merkel’s conservatives become more critical of Muslims, who make up an estimated 4 million of Germany’s 82 million population.
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:42 PM on 4th February 2011
Source: Daily Mail