Greens block veil ban in schools and universities in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein

There would have been a majority for a legal ban on full-face veils at schools and universities in the state. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) are calling for such a ban. The AfD has already submitted a corresponding bill. Large parts of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) are also against face veils at universities. The Greens, however, brought down the plans in the parliamentary coalition.They are against too many bans and want to uphold a liberal society, said parliamentary group leader Eka von Kalben.

The University of Kiel had sent a call for help to parliament. Katharina K., a German convert with contacts in the Salafist circles, showed up for a lecture in a nikab and was subsequently excluded from her studies. Now she wants to sue. In view of this situation, CDU Education Minister Karin Prien urgently appealed to parliament to create a legal basis for this. Otherwise, she said, such state intervention in a fundamental right – the wearer invokes freedom of religion – could not be sustained in the foreseeable future.

CDU Prime Minister Daniel Günther also immediately came out in favour. Politicians must ask themselves whether, similar to the rejection of anti-Semitism, they want to “define a social norm” that they will not tolerate the nikab and burqa as symbols of Salafism, lack of freedom and the oppression of women in schools and universities, Prien said in the state parliament on Wednesday.Her appeal fell on deaf ears. The Greens opposed a ban on veiling. There are also women who wear the nikab voluntarily, said Eka von Kalben. Politics does not have to make theological interpretations, argued her Green parliamentary colleague Lasse Petersdotter. Moreover, oppressed Muslim women in particular should not be excluded from education, and should rather be offered help at universities. And there was only one case of a female student in the country. He described the quick reaction of the Minister of Education and the Prime Minister to this as ill-considered and unsovereign. “Banning, pushing away, excluding and looking the other way does not solve problems,” Petersdotter said. “Our strategy against Salafism must be more meaningful than simple clothing bans.” A “ban on access to state educational institutions” also has no “deradicalising effect”.

SPD opposition leader Ralf Stegner did not want to accept this. He said that it was very much the task of politics to create a legal framework – and also to check whether a full-face veil was really a religious or not much more a political symbol.Even in the ranks of the CDU and FDP, their ministers and head of government Daniel Günther’s faces stiffened due to the unambiguous position of the Green parliamentary group. The CDU education politician Tobias Loose emphasised that there is a threat of further cases of full-face veils at schools in the state. There is already one concrete case. In Lower Saxony, the red-green government had issued a ban because of a case at the University of Osnabrück.

“We have to stand up for this and set limits,” emphasised Christopher Vogt, head of the FDP parliamentary group. University and school are places of enlightenment. Wearing a burqa or a nikab, on the other hand, is not an expression of cosmopolitanism, but above all a symbol of the oppression of women. “We want to make progress in gender equality, not regress,” said Vogt. Full-face veils would be where his liberality would end. The FDP therefore wants to let universities decide on a ban on full-face veils in the law.

In fact, the CDU/CSU and the Liberals are coming under considerable pressure from their members because of the dispute. There is talk of angry emails to the party leaders. The Greens were prepared to make only one compromise on Wednesday: there is to be a “major hearing” of experts on the issue in the state parliament.

AfD member of parliament Frank Brodehl sharply criticised the governing coalition for this ” wait-and-see” attitude. “CDU and FDP are abandoning the university. And that’s just to keep the coalition in good terms.” The hearing will not lead to any new insights, all the facts are available.In Bavaria, for example, a law like the one proposed by the AfD has long been in force. The hearing, according to the motto “If you don’t know any other way, form a research group”, should therefore only postpone a decision on the issue of face veils.”This may be in the interest of the survival of the coalition with the Greens, but it is definitely not in the interest of the universities in our country,” said Frank Brodehl. The teaching and examination business there, he said, does not tolerate any veiling of the students. And that is why the state parliament must also give them the possibility to ban it in a legally secure way.

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