German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for the ban of full-faced veils worn by some Muslim women “wherever legally possible” in the country.
Ms Merkel, who said this while she addressed members of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in her bid for a fourth term as the country’s Chancellor, said that the mass influx of asylum seekers such as the estimated 890,000 who entered the country in 2015 should never be repeated.
“The full-face veil must be banned, wherever it is legally possible,” Merkel told party delegates in Essen.
“A situation like the one in the late summer of 2015 cannot, should not and must not be repeated.”
The legislation will have to be approved by the senate before it becomes a law.
Germany had already moved towards a controversial partial ban on the burka in response to public concern about Muslim integration.
She however, hit out at anti-migrant and anti-government protesters who chant “We are the people!” or post hate messages on social media.
“Who the people are … is something that we will all determine, not just a few, however loud they may be,” she declared.
Germany saw about 890,000 asylum seekers arrive last year. Many came after Merkel decided in September 2015 to let in migrants who were stuck in Hungary. The numbers have since declined sharply, but Merkel’s approach to the migrant crisis provoked discord within the CDU, which has seen a string of poor state election results this year.
Mrs Merkel was re-elected CDU leader but faces a tough challenge by the right-wing anti-immigration AfD party in next year’s polls.
“The 2017 election will be more difficult than any election before, at least since German reunification,” Merkel said, citing the “strong polarization of our society.”
She was re-elected Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader on Tuesday with 89.5% of the votes cast by about 1,000 delegates, her lowest support of her 11 years as chancellor, after bagging 96.7 percent two years ago.