Angela Merkel has called for a burka ban after saying the ‘full veil is not appropriate’ in Germany, it has emerged.
In an astonishing U-turn, the German chancellor told her conservative CDU party conference that wearing the burka should be outlawed ‘wherever that is legally possible’.
It comes after the 62-year-old stressed her determination to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s huge migrant influx as she seeks a new term in charge of her party.
As she made her pitch for a fourth term as chancellor, Merkel said she would back a nationwide ban on Islamic veils covering the face.
Germany saw about 890,000 asylum-seekers arrive last year, many after Ms Merkel decided in September 2015 to let in migrants who were stuck in Hungary.
Numbers have since declined sharply, but Ms Merkel’s approach to the migrant crisis has provoked discord within her Christian Democratic Union party, which has seen a string of poor state election results this year.
‘A situation like the one in the late summer of 2015 cannot, should not and must not be repeated,’ Ms Merkel told party delegates at a congress in the western city of Essen.
‘That was and is our, and my, declared political aim,’ she said.
While Ms Merkel has continued to insist that Germany will take in people in genuine need of protection, her government has moved to toughen asylum rules and declare several countries ‘safe’ – meaning people from there cannot expect to get refuge in Germany.
Ms Merkel was a driving force behind an agreement between the European Union and Turkey earlier this year to stem the flow of migrants.
Ms Merkel announced last month that she will seek a fourth four-year term as chancellor in an election expected next September.