BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who last year opened the door to nearly 1 million mostly Muslim migrants, staked out a tough new stance on conservative Islam on Tuesday by making her first direct call for a widespread ban on “full veil” religious coverings.
Her backing could add Germany to the growing list of European nations imposing restrictions on Islamic coverings as debates sharpen across the continent over religious tolerance, perceived threats to European identity and possible attacks by Islamists.
It also could signal a pragmatic shift to the right for Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term as Germany’s leader. In the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the U.S. election of Donald Trump, the tolerant Merkel became seen as among the last guardians of liberal democracy in the West.
But her handling of the migrant crisis — which hit her approval ratings and caused internal party dissent — is now seen as a critical weakness ahead of next year’s elections. full story