I read a fair number of newspapers....to include German papers in the mix. Today, from The Western ( a daily from north Germany)....I came across this curious story.
Basically....a elementary school with a fair number of immigrants in the mix has found itself in the middle of a frustrating problem. A Muslim traditionalist mother, who wants to wear the facial covering (the niqab) on top of the burka as she comes into the school on occasion.
The principal or headmaster.....admits that she noticed this from early on, and had some problems with it. When she's standing there or sitting at a conference table.....she wants to see the person's face and be able to judge expressions. It helps her in terms of saying the right thing, or realizing how puzzled the receiver of the information might be.
Years ago, I sat in a verbal communications class, and we probably spent three hours discussing what you look for as you converse with someone. You look for direct eye-to-eye contact. You try to gauge the smile or frown....to mean something good or bad. You might notice a smirk which tells you the person isn't buying into your talk. There were probably twenty factors that you could get from facial expressions. So, in this case, I can understand what the headmaster is referring to.
The lady in question? She's a Muslim Tamil from Sao Lanka.
The headmaster might have left the whole debate on the table.....but then some kids freaked out with this lady appearing in a black burka and completely covered.....with the kids thinking she was a man. You can sit and imagine six-year-old or eight-year-old kids in most cultures thinking this.
So a meeting was arranged with the woman and her husband. The headmaster, according to Der Western, asked the guy directly....why the woman had to hide her face. The guy seemed to be perplexed by the question....shrugged his shoulders in admitting there's no clear answer....then said: "It's her thing".
Yeah, it's not much of an answer, but that's the whole routine of people just accepting things and never asking questions. You end up with a naive way of looking at life.
Eventually, in this chat.....the mother came to agree that when she came into the school.....she'd do so with the niqab removed. Things seemed to be OK, and smoothed out at that point. For a couple of occasions, the mother kept to the agreement and the story ought to end there.
Well...after a while, the mother just started to enter again with the niqab in plain view. All Der Western will say at this point is that the headmaster of the school admits she's not that tolerant on this issue. So you can sense.....somewhere down the line, there's going to be another confrontation or some authority from the community will step in and have someone at the gate to prevent simple entry into the school unless you meet their criteria.
I make a couple of trips into Wiesbaden each week. In the shopping district.....it's an interesting trend. From twenty years ago....you never came across anyone in the old fashioned burka outfit. There might have been some updated burka outfits with simple conservative tastes.....like you'd see in Turkey. Ten years ago you started to notice traditional burkas appearing....in black....the type of outfits that you'd notice in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Today? I'd take a guess that I'll see at least ten veiled women (niqab) per day. It's to the point where Germans simply look and barely notice now.
My general belief where this will go? Some turning point will occur, and some German comedian will decide it's time to don a Batman-mask or a Green Lantern-mask and just encourage people to walk around with masks all the time. Then someone will invent a male niqab and market it as a political piece of clothing....to say something without verbally saying it. Muslims will take offence to this, and German political figures will get hyped up to invent a law to forbid it. The courts will say you can't outlaw one, without outlawing all.
In this way, I see the traditional Muslim crowd pushed into thinking about what it was to drive them away from the old country, into Germany.....and what the priorities were to start with.
If you swap a lifestyle from one country for another.....what are you considering to give up and be like.....in order to have the better deal or better economic situations? What is your priority in life?
I would be the first to admit that hair covering in German society have been accepted for over a thousand years, and really not much of an issue. Covering the face? No. Getting Germans to accept this trend? It's a short trend, because German humor will eventually kick in and ridicule you in public and private. At that point, it's going to force people to think about their lifestyle.