German state mulls burqa ban for civil servants

3rd February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The German state of Lower Saxony is considering banning the Islamic full-face veil for civil servants, its interior minister said Thursday, after a neighbouring region said it would take similar measures.

"The burqa has no place in public service," Uwe Schuenemann told the Neue Presse regional daily. "Lower Saxony is currently looking at legal regulations for employees and officials."

On Wednesday, the western state of Hesse prohibited the wearing of the veil for civil servants, the first of Germany's 16 states to enact such a regulation.

"Civil service employees and those who come into contact with citizens should not be veiled," said Hesse's interior minister Boris Rhein in a statement.

The burqa debate in the region, home to financial centre Frankfurt, was reportedly sparked by a 39-year-old woman who had previously worn a headscarf to work then insisted she would only wear a burqa to carry out her duties.

The city of Frankfurt prevented her from doing this.

Lower Saxony's social affairs minister, Aygul Ozkan, herself of Turkish origin, said she backed a burqa ban in her state.

"A burqa in a public office oversteps the principle of tolerance," she told the Neue Presse.

"The citizen must have the right to see the face of the administration," added Ozkan, Germany's first female regional minister of Turkish origin.

© 2011 AFP

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