German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to fight hard to find a coalition partner to secure not only a functioning German government but also her own fourth term at the top. Little did she know though that once the deals were signed, she would find herself challenging her own party on policy as a debate on headscarves on schoolgirls has her party moving closer to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Julia Kloeckner, acting Farm Minister and member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), are two key party members moving further right as they look to ban girls under the age of 14 from wearing headscarves at school.
While a similar ban put into place for civil servants, judges and soldiers managed to make it through the German parliament last year, it is said that Merkel will not be as warm to the idea this go around.
The proposal has created a stir in the CDU/CSU party camps as some see this as an attempt to woo back voters after the AfD shook up the voting landscape this past September. For Seehofer and others in his CSU party, political careers are at stake again this year as Bavarians will be heading back to the voting booths in October.
A ban on headscarves, should it ever make its way into the law books, would certainly be celebrated by the AfD as a move against Islam, but that isn’t exactly the angle that CDU/CSU members are using to sell the idea.
As Kloeckner has argued, banning the headgear in schools is seen as a move to keep “crude gender stereotypes” from influencing children.