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New proposal to ban face veils in German courtrooms

September 21, 2016

Bavaria has submitted a new proposal for a law primarily aimed at banning burqas and niqabs from the courtroom. The Bundesrat is due to vote on the initiative in the coming days.

Symbolbild Frauentag
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Arshad Arbab

Anyone taking part in a trial in Germany should be required to show his or her face, according to a new proposal for a law Bavaria has submitted to the Bundesrat.

The proposal, which also has the support of Baden-Württemberg, calls for the banning of face veils such as the ones worn by some Muslim women.

"The burqa and the niqab are not only diametrically opposed to our understanding of the equality of man and woman and open communication," said Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), on Wednesday. "In court, they complicate understanding of the truth and the enforcement of material justice."

Deutschland Bayern Justizminister Winfried Bausback
Winfried BausbackImage: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Kneffel

In other words, in order to have a better appreciation of the reliability of the witness, courts must be able to see her face.

Bausback's counterpart from Baden-Württemberg, Guido Wolf of the CDU, said a fully covered woman taking part in a trial was "not feasible."

The Bundesrat is due to vote on the proposal on Friday.

Bavaria's proposal comes as more conservative politicians have come out in support of a partial ban on burqas in Germany, including members of the CDU. A poll in late August found that a significant majority of Germans also supported banning the burqa, a traditional Islamic veil that covers women from head to toe, in public places.

blc/jil (dpa, KNA)