Steve Hawkes and Corey Charlton, The Sun, December 6, 2016
German premier Angela Merkel called for a ban on the Burka for the first time as she launched a bid to remain in power with a dramatic shift.
Sparking a standing ovation from her CDU Party, the German Chancellor threw her weight behind calls to outlaw the burqa and niqab wherever “possible”.
She said: “With us, the rule is: show your face, that’s why the full veil is not appropriate, it should be banned.”
The CDU party wants to ban the full face veil in courts, schools and universities as well as in road traffic and during police checks.
A full ban as introduced in France is thought to be incompatible with Germany’s rules.
Ms Merkel’s blast marks a seismic change in tone from a politician lauded around the world for throwing opening the country’s borders to over a million refugees a year ago.
She has repeatedly criticised populist politicians playing to right-wing voters.
Tory Eurosceptics said it proved how “desperate” Ms Merkel is to secure a fourth-term in a crunch General Election next year–and how flexible she could be in Brexit talks.
Just last month Ms Merkel conceded next year’s German Election would be “more difficult” than any she has contested so far given the fallout from the migrant crisis.
After the speech, she was re-elected leader of the CDU party with a whopping 89.5 per cent majority.
Ms Merkel also ruled out a repeat of last year’s refugee wave, and insisted German law took precedence over “honour, tribal or family rules and over sharia law”.
In September, the Chancellor called for stricter guidelines on the burqa–while added that “diversity is the logical consequence of freedom”.
Tory backbencher Michael Tomlinson said it was a boost for Theresa May as it proved how “flexible” the German Chancellor can be.
He told the Sun: “Whatever you think of the German Chancellor’s new policy on Burqas, it’s a monumental change of direction.
“And it just shows how flexible our European friends and allies can be.
“One of our biggest failings is when we think that politicians abroad will always stand firm so we have to accommodate every desire. This just isn’t how the world works.
“And it isn’t how things have to be.”
It marks a U-turn for CDU party leaders, who have previously expressed scepticism of a full ban despite growing calls for it among rank and file members.
Merkel has also stopped short of calling for a ban, saying only that she must find the right legal and political balance.
Party members have recently expressed hope it would encompass both the burka and the niqab, which shows slightly more of a woman’s face.
Germany saw about 890,000 asylum-seekers arrive last year, many after Merkel decided in September 2015 to let in migrants who were stuck in Hungary.
Numbers have since declined sharply, but Merkel’s approach to the migrant crisis has provoked discord within her Christian Democratic Union, which has seen a string of poor state election results this year.
“A situation like the one in the late summer of 2015 cannot, should not and must not be repeated,” Merkel told party delegates. “That was and is our, and my, declared political aim,” she said.
While Merkel has continued to insist that Germany will take in people in genuine need of protection, her government has moved to toughen asylum rules and declare several countries “safe” meaning people from there can’t expect to get refuge in Germany.
Merkel was a driving force behind an agreement between the European Union and Turkey earlier this year to stem the flow of migrants.