Thursday 23 November 2017

Call for burqa ban and end to dual citizenship in Germany

Germany has no restrictions on the wearing of the burqa. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Germany has no restrictions on the wearing of the burqa. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Justin Huggler

Senior ministers in Germany have called for a ban on burqas and an end to dual citizenship in response to the threat from terrorism.

Angela Merkel's government is preparing to unveil increased security measures in the wake of recent terror attacks.

Thomas de Maiziere, the country's interior minister, is to detail a series of new proposals today - including the deportation of preachers who incite terrorism. But senior elected officials from Ms Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU) believe the new measures do not go far enough, and have published a series of more far-reaching proposals.

Mr de Maiziere is believed to support the call for tougher measures and will add his signature to the proposals, according to press reports.

The document, known as the Berlin Declaration, has already been signed by state interior ministers across Germany. It includes 27 measures to increase security, including recruiting thousands of new police officers and the use of video camera surveillance in city centres.

But the most controversial proposals are the calls for a ban on the full-face veil in public and an end to dual citizenship.

Unlike some European countries, Germany has no restrictions on the wearing of burqas or headscarves in public. Some lawyers have argued a ban could require a change to the German constitution, which protects freedom of religious expression.

The declaration calls for an end to dual citizenship on the grounds that it impedes integration. Under the current law, refugees and those born in Germany to immigrant parents are allowed dual citizenship.

"We reject this divided loyalty," the declaration reads. "We suggest whoever wants to get involved with the politics of foreign governments leaves Germany."

It is not clear whether the proposal would apply to nationals from other EU countries, who are also allowed dual citizenship under current laws.

The proposal calls for dual nationals who fight for Isil or other extremist groups to be stripped of German citizenship.

Under Germany's federal system, law and order is largely the preserve of the 16 state governments. The interior ministers who have signed the declaration are all members of the CDU or its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, which means there will be considerable pressure for Ms Merkel's government to adopt at least some of the measures.

A spokesman for the interior ministry said the declaration was "still under consultation".

Mr de Maiziere is to present a series of new security measures today. While they have not yet been made public, according to details leaked to 'Bild' newspaper they include new rules to make the deportation of asylum seekers and foreign nationals easier.

Under the new measures, deportation will be possible on the grounds that a person is a "danger to public safety".

Those who incite violence and crime will also be subject to deportation for the first time, meaning foreign hate preachers who call for terrorist attacks can be forced to leave Germany.

Most eye-catching is a measure to loosen Germany's strict medical confidentiality laws so doctors and therapists can report patients they believe may be a threat to public safety.

The laws faced criticism after last year's Germanwings crash, in which co-pilot Andreas Lubitz flew his aircraft into the ground. Doctors treating Lubitz had not warned of the risk he posed because of the laws. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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