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German MPs approve partial burqa ban, security measures

German MPs approve partial burqa ban, security measures
German lawmakers have approved a partial ban on the full-face burqa Islamic veil and a package of security measures aimed at preventing extremist attacks.

The new laws follow several jihadist attacks, including a truck rampage through a Berlin Christmas market that claimed 12 lives, and come ahead of September elections.

The new law on facial coverings falls short of a total ban in public places demanded by right-wing parties, like that in effect in neighbouring France since 2011. The prohibition will apply to public servants — including election officials, military and judicial staff — performing their duties.

"The state has a duty to present itself in an ideologically and religiously neutral manner," says the text of the law passed by the lower house on Thursday evening.

Germany has since 2015 taken in more than one million migrants and refugees, most from predominantly Muslim countries.

This has stoked a xenophobic backlash and boosted the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party, which has attempted to link the influx to a heightened threat of terrorism.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the social integration of immigrants requires "that we make clear and communicate our values and the limits of our tolerance to other cultures".

The ban on full facial coverings allows exceptions — for example, for health workers protecting themselves against infections or police officers concealing their identity.
Agencies

Agencies

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