Sunday

19th Jan 2020

Top German Liberal in EU parliament wants Europe-wide burqa ban

  • Burqa-clad women stand out strongly in Europe (Photo: miss_ohara)

First the Belgian lower chamber votes to ban the burqa; soon France intends to follow suit; now the leading German Liberal in the European Parliament and a vice-president of the assembly has called for a Europe-wide ban on the face-concealing garment.

Silvana Koch-Mehrin, the 40-year-old head of the Free Democrats in Strasbourg, in an opinion piece at the weekend for German tabloid Bild am Sonntag said: "I would like to see the wearing of all forms of the burqa banned in Germany and in all of Europe."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Ms Koch-Mehrin is one of 14 vice-presidents of the parliament and sits on the bureau, the highest administrative body in the chamber.

Declaring that she welcomes the Belgian parliament's decision "quite explicitly," she went on: "The burqa is an enormous attack on the rights of women. It is a mobile prison."

She added that the full veil represents an embrace of "values we in Europe do not share."

"And I admit it: When I meet people on the streets fully veiled, I'm disturbed. I can not judge what their intentions towards me are."

"I'm not afraid, but I am unsure."

The German Free Democrats are economic liberals with a strong belief in personal freedoms.

However, according to Ms Koch-Mehrin, there are limits to this freedom and the EU should decide on behalf of Muslim women the limits of what clothing they can wear.

"Freedom can not go so far as to take away the public faces of humans. At least not in Europe," she said.

Civil liberties groups and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have strongly condemned the Belgian ban, arguing that it is a form of symbolic attack on the Muslim community in Europe as a whole.

In Belgium, only an estimated several dozen out of the country's 375,000 Muslims wear the burqa.

Ms Koch-Mehrin's remarks come ahead of important regional elections in Germany on 9 May.

Interview

Cloud of mistrust over Malta's new government

Malta's new government does not look likely to turn it into a normal, law-abiding EU state any time soon, the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said.

Belgium, France, UK in EU court surveillance blow

Although non-binding, a critical opinion from the EU's top court could mean laws in Belgium, France and the UK allowing for the indiscriminate bulk collection of people's data may have to be eventually amended to respect EU privacy rules.

MEPs slam UK for violating EU police database

EUobserver's revelations of how the UK violates and abuses an EU police database sparked heated debate in the European Parliament's civil liberties committee - as the European Commission refused to respond to questions given the confidentiality of the leaked document.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

European politicians caught with Russian 'fake likes'

Politicians and political parties in Europe have had bots generate fake 'likes', views, and comments to boost their online popularity, in what has been described as outright voter manipulation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us