German Chancellor Merkel's conservatives say they are considering a proposal to ban the wearing of full-face veils. This comes as a third French town forbids Muslim women to wear the "burqini" swimsuit while bathing.
Leading members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) on Monday held a long debate about banning the burqa and the niqab amid internal party differences on the matter, according to participants at the meeting.
The CDU general secretary, Peter Tauber, said the party's national executive had agreed that the wearing of the full-body coverings as practiced by some Muslim women was "contrary to integration."
"We reject it," he said, adding: "It is not in keeping with our country."
He said CDU interior ministers from the German states were to meet later this week to "look at different areas in which a regulation can perhaps be imposed" and come up with a proposal.
The renewed debate on the wearing of the burqa comes despite the fact that Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who also belongs to the CDU, last week rejected a general ban, saying "You can't forbid everything you reject."
At Monday's meeting, de Maiziere also reportedly pointed out legal problems associated with such a ban.
However, it seems likely that the interior ministers will propose a compromise, forbidding the wearing of the burqa in certain public situations, such as visits to administrative offices, including courts.
Calls by German conservatives for a burqa ban like that introduced in France and Belgium have risen in recent weeks following two attacks last month in southern Germany that have been linked to the "Islamic State " extremist group.
The attacks prompted de Maiziere to present a new raft of security measures.
Harsher measures demanded
But these have not gone far enough for some, with CDU state interior ministers joining the hardline Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, in calling not just for a ban on full-body veils, but also an end to dual citizenship in Germany as a measure to combat terrorism.
Tauber said, however, that the CDU's national executive saw "no current need for changes" in Germany's rules on dual nationality.
He criticized that the debate gave the impression that Germany allowed people to hold two passports on a universal basis, saying that it was permitted only in certain cases.
The meeting of the CDU national executive was the first since Chancellor Merkel returned from her annual summer holidays.
Burqini ban imposed in Corsican town
As German conservatives discuss the issue of Islamic dress, a third French town has announced that it is banning the full-body Islamic swimsuit known as the burqini.
The Socialist mayor of the town of Sisco on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica said the burqini was not acceptable in his town and would be banned as of Tuesday.
"People here feel provoked by things like that," Ange-Pierre Vivoni told BFM Television, adding that Islamist fundamentalists "have no business here."
But in a radio interview, he denied reports that a brawl on the beach in Sisco on Saturday night, in which five people were injured, had been sparked by tourists taking pictures of women swimming in burqinis.
A hundred police officers were called to break up the fight after it erupted between locals and families of North African origin. The island has seen rising tensions between local Muslims and their neighbors.
The cities of Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet in mainland France have already banned the burqini.
France as a whole has forbidden the wearing of the full-face veil in public places as going against its principle of secularism, exacerbating tensions with the country's large Muslim community.
The country is on high alert after being struck by several attacks claimed by the "Islamic State" group, including a massacre in the southern city of Nice last month, in which a Tunisian drove a truck into crowds celebrating the national holiday, Bastille Day. Eighty-five people died and hundreds were injured.
tj/rc (Reuters, dpa, AFP