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German Parliament moves to ban civil servants, judges, soldiers from wearing full-face veil at work

Germany’s Bundestag lower house of parliament agreed to a draft law on Thursday that will prevent civil servants, judges and soldiers in Germany from wearing full-face veils at work.

The move comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel called in December for a ban on full-face Muslim veils “wherever legally possible”. There are five months to go before a federal election, and her conservatives lost some support to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) during the migrant crisis.

More than a million migrants, many of them Muslims from the Middle East, have arrived in Germany over the last two years, and concerns about integration are widespread.

The move follows several terror attacks, including one on a Berlin Christmas market that claimed 12 lives.

France, Austria, Belgium and Turkey have all imposed a ban in certain public spaces. Legislation supporting a ban is in progress in the Netherlands, while local bans apply in other nations including Denmark, Russia, Spain and Switzerland.

“Integration also means that we should make clear and impart our values and where the boundaries of our tolerance towards other cultures lie,” German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said. “The draft law we have agreed on makes an important contribution to that.”

In February, the southern state of Bavaria, ruled by the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s conservatives said it would ban the full-face veil in schools, universities, government workplaces and polling stations.

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