Over the past couple of months, there's been increasing amounts of hype by political folks over the idea of banning the Burka. If you took the measurement of who is saying this....it comes from mostly the AfD Party, to a lesser degree the CSU and CDU Parties.....and to a very minor degree from the SPD Party.
The odds of any ban occurring? I have my doubts.
First, you need to ask what these people mean. There are several types of Burkas. Few people get into this topic or grasp that there are basically four types of Burkas.
- The Hijab is simply the headscarf which covers the hair and neck. If you ask most Germans....99-percent have no problem with the headscarf covering.
- The Chador, which is normally only worn by women of Iran or Afghanistan. It's like the Hijab with the face uncovered and more of a shawl than anything else. I think most Germans have no problem with the Chador.
- Then you come to the Niqab, which has the opening for the eyes only. Most Muslims will say that this comes from the groups more attached to the Wahabi Islam beliefs than anywhere else. This is typically not the type of covering that you'd see with women from Iran. Here, I think if you asked the general German public.....at least one-third of the public thinks this needs to be eliminated in some fashion. I should add....based on traveling around Germany.....that a decade ago, it was very rare that you'd see this type of covering. Today? If you go into Frankfurt or Wiesbaden and spend eight hours around the shopping district....you'd probably observe a minimum of thirty women wearing the Niqab.
- Then you come to the true "Burka", the fourth in this group. This is the one which features a veil-like material over the eyes. It's wearer? Typically the Pashtuns of Afghanistan. I can't think of any other group in the Middle East which utilizes it. The odds of seeing someone wear this true "Burka" in Germany? I have to be honest and admit in the past year.....I've seen a total of two women only. It's very rare.
The second part of this discussion is that religious freedom is one of those virtues guaranteed by the Basic Law (Germany's Constitution). If X-religion says such-and-such hat is required, then religious freedom typically falls into play. In this case, the covering. It's to see how they can draft a law and find enough support among either the SPD Party or some current opposition party in the Bundestag. Unless you can establish some division in the thinking process over religious freedom.....I just don't see enough votes to make this happen.
The safety part of this discussion? Well....this is an interesting part to the story. Last week, it got brought up by a safety official that the Niqab and the Burka.....both might be hazardous and create an unsafe field of vision....if the person was driving and wearing the item. I sat and pondered this for a while and have to agree....on the talk of open vision....they have a solid point. Might there be a law which says no Burka or Niqab while driving? That might get some attention in various German states and actually pass.....then have some federal court ask questions.
In 2014, no one would have brought this up and it wouldn't have been a hot political topic. Today? For the 2017 election coming up? I could see this being a topic and hurting the SPD Party in various ways.
Germany always placed itself as a very open and tolerant society.....selling the image to everyone who came for a visit. The curious segment to this topic is that the Germans already opened up their society, dragging a lot of Germans kicking and screaming through the past forty-odd years of progression. So if you were trying to sell the Germans that reverse-progression or cultural anchors from past conservative eras are acceptable.....well....it just won't sell to the general German public.
How society might react to a ban? It'll be challenged in court and the make-up of the Bundestag after the 2017 election will matter greatly. I'd take a guess that some interest groups or lobbyists would try to make it a big cultural problem to accept. The general problem I see from a cultural point....is that it simply turns into a dividing line for group X to be special.....from group Y. Eventually, someone will walk into a job interview....get the job, and week later show up for work.....wearing a Niqab. The boss will say it's a no-go situation, and terminate the employee. It's the kind of question that we need to establish one way or another now......or face tons of discrimination law suits in the future.
So, when you see the topic come up.....you can assume it's going to be one of those four-star discussion episodes with some intellectual German stuck with a very limited problem.