As the neighboring Netherlands begins policing the wearing of burqas, Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) are calling for a burqa ban of Germany's own. Julia Klöckner, who leads the provincial Rhineland-Palatinate branch of the party and is the No. 2 Christian Democrat nationally, said Germany should enshrine a dress code for Muslim women in order to help protect their dignity.
"It's not about a piece of fabric, but about the entire gender image that is expressed through it," Klöckner, also the agriculture minister in Merkel's government, told the Passauer Neue Presse (PNP) in an article published Friday. "Our Basic Law is totally clear," Klöckner added. "Men and women have equal value and equal rights."
Though a burqa ban would be constitutionally tricky, CDU colleagues joined Klöckner, who was once tapped as a potential successor to Merkel, in calling for a burqa ban. "The burqa does not belong to Germany," said Thorsten Frei, the vice chairman of the CDU's parliamentary group in the Bundestag. "It decidedly contradicts our values and image of humanity."
The opposition didn't immediately back shifting the government's focus. "Burqa bans and similar measures are purely symbolic politics without any type of security policy value," said Konstantin von Notz, a Bundestag deputy for the Greens, who now stand tied with the CDU in support.