German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a nationwide ban on full-face veils Tuesday, hardening her stance on immigration issues as she faces a wave of criticism for her pro-refugee policies.
The head of state, who allowed more than a million refugees into the country last year, made the statement at a conference for her own party, the Christian Democratic Union.
“Full veiling is not appropriate here — it should be banned wherever that is legally possible,” Merkel declared to thunderous applause, according to an Associated Press translation.
Policy details, including exactly where the ban should be implemented and the penalties for violating such a law, are still being debated among party leaders, the Washington Post reported.
The idea is hardly novel for Germany and even less so for Europe.
Senior officials in Germany have previously called for a ban on burqas and an end to dual citizenship.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said last summer that full-face veils are “not part of our open society,” according to the Associated Press.
In 2010, the French Parliament passed a law forbidding people from concealing their faces in public. Belgium passed a similar ban soon after. Switzerland, the Netherlands and, most recently, Bulgaria have implemented partial bans on full-face veils. In those countries, the veils are only prohibited in certain places.
In addition to the veil ban, Merkel also called for stemming the influx of immigrants, a more hardline note from her previous stance as an asylum provider.
Merkel’s open immigration policies contributed to a recent political setback for her and her party. The Christian Democratic Union garnered only 17.6 percent of the vote in Berlin’s September state elections, while the anti-immigrant party, Alternative for Germany, entered Parliament for the first time with 14.2 percent of the vote.
Merkel’s more conservative speech seemed to satisfy her party delegates who re-elected her to lead the party with 89.5 percent of the vote.
Last month, Merkel announced that she is seeking a fourth term as chancellor.
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