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German state announces new ban on wearing burqas in schools

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On Tuesday, the state of Baden-Wuttemberg in the southwest of Germany announced the ban on wearing burqas in schools. The state’s Premier Winfried Kretschmann said it was rare for schoolgirls to wear burqas ahead of the ban. Explaining the ban, the Green Party politician, Mr Kreschmann claimed wearing the whole body garment does not promote certain aspects of a free society.

Baden-Wuttemberg has also banned the wearing of burqas or niqabs for teachers.

The new rule will apply to girls attending primary and secondary schools in the state.

In support of the member for the Green Party, the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) Minister of Culture, Susanne Eisenmann had wanted to impose a full ban on full veils in February.

Stating the reason, she claimed face coverings “prevent open communication”.

She said: “Schools are places where people can get together and meet.

“The lessons there are based on open communication, which is also expressed in gestures and facial expressions.

“A covered face prevents this open communication.”

Both the Green Party and the CDU have remained split over the issue except for wearing the clothing in schools.

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However, Green Party officials Sandra Detzer and Oliver Hildenbrand had previously called burqas and niqabs “symbols of oppression”.

Members of the CDU party have called for a full-scale ban on the burqa across the country.

Four years ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would support a nationwide prohibition on full-face veils.

At the time, she told delegates in Essen: “The full-face veil is not acceptable in our country.

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“It should be banned, wherever it is legally possible.”

Despite the support for the ban in the state, in February a German court overturned a school’s ban on a 16-year-old wearing a niqab.

Initially, education officials in Hamburg had informed the girl’s parents that she must not wear the veil at school.

That decision was overturned, however, by an administrative court.

Some critics of any potential ban, have stated it could well divide the nation.

Under Germany’s federal system, each state has its own education ministry and each 16 have differing laws on face-coverings.

Other northern European countries such as Holland, Austria, France, Denmark and Austria have also introduced their own types of bans on the veil.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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