Germany is the latest country to take a stance against burkas. The country's chancellor, Angela Merkel, called for a ban on the full-coverage, face-obscuring veil during a speech as part of campaign for another term in her role as chancellor. "The full face veil should be banned, wherever legally possible," Merkel said during her speech, eliciting ample applause, per The Telegraph. The possibility of imposing a ban on the modest Muslim garment cropped up in August, when Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s interior minister, proposed a partial ban on the controversial garment. The politician suggested a burka ban be instated in select public places, such as schools and public offices. As for de Maizière's rationale for prohibiting (or at least limiting) the full-coverage veils, it's because the garment "doesn’t fit with our country and does not correspond to our understanding of the role of women," he said, per The New York Times. Concurrently, Merkel spoke out against the ultra-modest veils, telling local newspapers that "a fully veiled woman scarcely has a chance at full integration" in German culture. Beyond Germany, a region of Switzerland deemed it illegal for women to don face coverings, with fines as steep as $10,000. In 2010, France enacted a law prohibiting any face-concealing coverings, following a 2004 law forbidding students in state-run schools from donning any religiously symbolic garb. Belgium also banned full-face veils in 2011, a year after France did so.
More recently, in mid-August, the summertime-specific modest head covering — the burkini — was banned in Cannes, in addition to 30 other coastal French Riviera towns. The ban was then overturned by French courts within a matter of weeks; ironically, sales of burkinis reportedly spiked during the period that the ban was in place. The burka and burkini often get criticized for oppressing women. Yet banning full-coverage garments that are religiously symbolic (and often mandated) is also considered by some to be institutionalized Islamophobia. Stay tuned as to whether Germany will, in fact, go forward with legislation to outlaw the burka, and what that means for its citizens and visitors.