Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Senior German ministers call for ban on wearing the burqa
Senior ministers in Germany have called for a ban on burqas and an end to dual citizenship in response to the threat from terrorism.
The demands come as Angela Merkel’s government prepares to unveil increased security measures in the wake of recent terror attacks.

Thomas de Maiziere, the German interior minister, is to detail a series of new proposals on Thursday, including the deportation of preachers who incite terror.
But senior elected officials from Mrs Merkel’s own Christian Democrat party (CDU) believe the new measures do not go far enough, and have published a series of more far-reaching proposals.

Mr de Maiziere is believed to support the call for tougher measures, and will add his signature to the proposals next week, according to local press reports.

The document, already known as the Berlin Declaration, has already been signed by state interior ministers across Germany.

It includes 27 measures to increase security, including thousands of new police officers and video camera surveillance in city centres.

Background | History of the Burqa

The Koran enjoins all Muslims – whether male or female – to dress modestly and refrain from revealing “any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary”.

Beyond this general instruction, the holy book offers no specific guidance on female clothing. Its pages contain no mention of the burqa or, for that matter, of the other varieties of dress that are now associated with Islam, including the hijab, or veil.

The burqa appears to have originated in Persia in the 10th century, before slowly spreading to the Arabian Peninsula and present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Arabia, a variant known as the "niqab" was promoted by the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam; in South Asia, the burqa was adopted by the Deobandis, the local strand of fundamentalism.

When the Taliban captured Kabul and seized power over most of Afghanistan in 1996, they made it compulsory for all women to wear the burqa.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world, the garment remained largely unknown until relatively recently. It was the rise of the Wahhabi and Deobandi traditions which spread the burqa to areas where it was previously invisible, including West Africa.

Hardly any women wore the burqa in West Africa until two or three decades ago. Today, it remains rare in most countries in the region, explaining why some governments have imposed a ban without a public backlash.

The burqa is a reflection of culture rather than an accepted interpretation of Islam and it remains an alien imposition in large areas of the Muslim world. Since the rise of Boko Haram, it has also come to be seen as a security risk, hence the gradual spread of the ban through West Africa.

But the most controversial proposals are the calls for a ban on the full-face burqa in public and an end to dual citizenship.

Unlike some European countries, Germany has no restrictions on the wearing of burqas or headscarves in public. Some lawyers have argued a ban could require a change to the German constitution, which protects freedom of religious expression.

The declaration calls for an end to dual citizenship on the grounds that it impedes integration. Under the current law, refugees and those born in Germany to immigrant parents are allowed dual citizenship.
“We reject this divided loyalty,” the declaration reads. “We suggest whoever wants to get involved with the politics of foreign governments leaves Germany.”
It is not clear whether the proposal would apply to nationals from other EU countries, who are also allowed dual citizenship under current laws.

The proposal calls for dual nationals who fight for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) or other extremist organisations to be stripped of their German citizenship.

Under Germany’s federal system, law and order are largely the preserve of the 16 state governments.

The interior ministers who have signed the declaration are all members of the CDU or its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which means there will be considerable pressure for Mrs Merkel’s government to adopt at least some of the measures.

A spokesman for the interior ministry said the declaration was “still under consultation”.

Mr de Maiziere is to present a series of less new security measures on Thursday. While they have not yet been made public, according to details leaked to Bild newspaper they include new ruls to make the deportation of asylum-seekers and foreign nationals easier.

Under the new measures, deportation will be possible on the ground the person is a “danger to public safety”.

Those who incite violence and crime will also be subject to deportation for the first time, meaning foreign hate preachers who call for terror attacks can be forced to leave Germany.
Afghan men wear burqas and march to support women's rightsPlay!01:40

Most eye-catching is a measure to loosen Germany’s notoriously strict medical confidentiality laws so doctors and therapists can report patients they believe may be a threat to public safety.

The medical privacy laws came under intense international criticism after last year’s Germanwings plane crash, in which the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately flew his aircraft into the ground, killing everybody on board.

Doctors treating Lubitz for depression had not alerted the airline to the risk he posed because of the laws.

Mr de Maiziere will also unveil plans for a new GCHQ-style intelligence agency devoted to monitoring communications, according to Bild.

The government is expected to put the new measures to be unveiled on Thursday into force before general elections next year.

It is believed the more sweeping demands of the Berlin Declaration would take longer to implement.