Germany’s interior minister is due to announce a proposal to ban women’s full face veils in public as part of a number of new security measures.
Thomas de Maizière is due to announce the proposals on Thursday in response to growing concerns about terrorism in the country following a string of violent incidents across the country, German media reported.
The proposals also include boosting police numbers and video surveillance at transport hubs, making it easier for doctors to break confidentiality agreements when they think there is a threat and tightening the rules around obtaining dual nationality.
Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrat party (CDU) will aim to see the proposals become law by the national elections in 2017, the Guardian reported.
The party is under increasing pressure as its previous policy of welcoming refugees from Syria who arrived at its borders was blamed for a series of sexual assaults and robberies of over a 1,000 women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
In the parliamentary elections in March, the far-right, anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) won its first seats in the Bundestag.
A similar law was passed in France by 2010 which meant all women wearing the niqab in a public place could be fined.
A handful of women have been prosecuted under the law but it is unknown whether it deters terrorism as there has been a similar escalation in the number of terror attacks in France over the past 18 months.
These include an attack on multiple targets in Paris in November which killed 130, an attack in Nice on Bastille Day which killed 84 and the murder of an elderly priest in a Normandy church by two teenagers who pledged allegiance to Isis.
It was first proposed by an up and coming CDU MP on the right of the party, Jens Spahn.
He told German newspaper Die Welt last month: “A ban on the full veil, ie the niqab and the burqa, is overdue and would be a signal to the world.
“I don’t want to encounter a burqa in this country. In that sense I am burqaphobic.”
The proposals will prove divisive and have been condemned as a “populist” gesture by the national chair of the Turkish community in Germany, Gökay Sofuoglu.
He told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper: “How would one go about putting that into practice? Burqas are at the most worn by tourists from Saudi-Arabia”.
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