When the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, proposed a ban on the burqa and niqab at a conference of her political party in December 2016, she was following the lead of a number of countries in Europe which already have such legislation in place.
In France and Belgium a woman wearing a full-face veil can be jailed for up to seven days. In January 2017, there were also reports that Morocco had banned the production and sale of the burqa.
Merkel, who has faced criticism over her refugee policy, turned towards a ban on the Muslim veil as proof of her harder stance on integration in Germany.
The politicisation of the veil – whether it covers the full face (burqa), leaves the eyes open (niqab) or covers head and neck only (hijab, al-amira, khimar) – has a long history in European politics. And it often becomes a battleground for different ideologies at times of…