“Vermummungsverbot” in Germany

gerflag As we all know, the influx of refugees has once again left its mark on this summer.

Not only was it a big deal concerning the Brexit, but also in relation to the increasing terror attacks in Europe.

The growing fear in society raised the topic of dress codes. In particular, the question of whether or not women should be allowed to wear burkas in public was discussed controversially.

A burka is a religious garment worn predominantly by Muslim women. It covers the whole body and leaves only a thin slit for the eyes.

In Germany there are some restrictions concerning the dress code in public, for example the so called “Vermummungsverbot” is a law that forbids people at demonstrations from wearing masks or other clothing that covers the face and thus hides their identities.

In addition to this, there is a ban on uniforms, meaning that people are not allowed to wear uniforms that show a common political orientation, at public gatherings.

If we observe burkas, it is questionable whether or not they count as a uniform, whether they fall under that law and if so – to what extent?

The German sister party of the CDU, the so called CSU (Christian-social union in Bavaria), had a clear response to that question and demanded a ban on the burka in Germany because they consider it to be a religious uniform.

This issue raised a debate in society with both supporters and opponents of the proposed ban.

The supporters are of the opinion that the prohibition of burkas is necessary because in our western culture they symbolize of the oppression of women. Moreover, burkas are an obstacle for integration since women wearing burkas are mostly excluded from society.

We have to ask ourselves if they may have a point here.

It is a natural desire to want to see the person with whom one is talking in order to assess them. Everything that is foreign to us makes us afraid or at least skeptical so that, as a result, most people would not dare to start a conversation with a woman wearing a burka.

On the other side, we have the opponents stressing the religious freedom that is already recorded in our Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 18

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Individual freedom is also an important argument. Where does personal freedom end and is it justifiable to infringe it?

-Anna Körfer