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Support, sarcasm after Merkel's burqa ban call

December 6, 2016

Populist politicians have reacted with skepticism to Angela Merkel's endorsement of a ban on face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women. The Christian Democrats once again made her their candidate for chancellor.

CDU Bundesparteitag nach Merkel Wiederwahl
Image: picture-alliance/AA/I. Fassbender

Angela Merkel attacked Germany's right-wing populists Tuesday - first by criticizing opponents of her refugee policies and then by nicking one of their panaceas. The chancellor told fellow members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) that she supported a proposal by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere to outlaw full-face covering garments worn by some Muslim women.

"'Cheer storm' at Merkel's AfD demand for a ban on full-face veils," Beatrix von Storch, a member of the European Parliament for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), wrote in a tweet, implying that the chancellor's proposal is not just disingenuous but unoriginal.

On Tuesday, Merkel was once again endorsed as the CDU's candidate for chancellor, this time around with 89.5 percent support from delegates. In the days leading up to the party's convention in Essen, senior CDU officials had struck an increasingly right-wing tone - particularly on the broad topic of refugees.

'Legally possible' bans

Merkel told the CDU that Germans should expect integration from migrants, underlining her party's bid to ban certain religious garments worn by some women. The chancellor told delegates that Germany could not tolerate "parallel societies."

"Full veiling is not appropriate here," Merkel said. "The full veil must be banned wherever that is legally possible," she added, in an apparent acknowledgment of the German constitution's protections for religious and individual rights.

Though the CDU's right wing applauded Merkel's proposal for a limited crackdown on women's passive observance of faith in certain spaces and the AfD witheringly endorsed the chancellor's aping of that party's policy, other European euroskeptics were, well, skeptical. "Too late," Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, wrote on Twitter. "The horse has bolted."

Opposition figures pointed out that Germany might have bigger problems to police than women's clothing. "What hypocrisy! To demand a burqa ban but to studiously conduct arms sales to the exporters of the burqa." Sevim Dagdelen, a member of the Bundestag's Foreign Affairs Committee for the Left party, wrote on Twitter, noting that women who wear burqas or other face coverings such as niqabs often come from the countries that most eagerly buy German weapons. 

mkg/se (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)