ANGELA Merkel is under mounting pressure to ban the burka from within the ranks of her party after one of her own ministers demanded that the wearing of the Islamic garment be banned in Germany.
Jens Spahn, Germany’s deputy finance minister and a senior member of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, declared himself a “burkaphobe” and said that a ban on the burka is “overdue.”
The comments, made during an interview with newspaper Die Welt yesterday, came as thousands of Germans took to the streets of Berlin in angry protests against the German Chancellor’s controversial immigration policy.
More than a million refugees have arrived in Germany over the past year, many from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
Tensions are running high in over the impact of mass immigration after five attacks over the past fortnight in which 15 have died and dozens injured.
At least two of the attacks were inspired by extremist Islam, according to the German authorities.
Mr Spahn said: “We all have underestimated a year ago what was about to hit us, with this great migration movement.”
He described the process of integration of immigrants as a “Herculean task” and argued that Germany should expect a “willingness to adapt” by people wanting to live there.
Mr Spahn commented: “Anyone who thinks that men are worth more than women, who refuses to learn German or to send his daughter to school swimming lessons should seek shelter in a different country, one that better suits him.”
He added: “We face the biggest problem of a lack of willingness to integrate with immigrants from the Arab world.”
The burka symbolises this, according to Mr Spahn: “At Ikea I often run into women wearing a full-face veil. This is a social change that I do not want.”
He added: “A ban of the full-face veil, meaning the niqab and burka, is overdue as a signal to the world. I do not want to see a burka in this country. In this sense I am a burkaphobe.”
Several other European countries have announced full or partial bans on the burka since France became the first European country to ban them in 2011.
Belgium, the Netherlands, and regions in Switzerland and Italy have since followed suit.