Jens Spahn, a senior member of Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, has previously declared himself a “burkaphobe” and said a ban on the Islamic dress is “overdue”.
While appearing on BBC HARDtalk, it was suggested by host Stephen Sackur the German politician’s stance on the controversial full-face veil was devised to attract voters from Germany’s far-right political parties.
He said: “If I may say so Mr Spahn, is that why you are pandering to the far-right by taking on, for example, the issue of the burka in Germany – and describing yourself as burkaphobic?
“Is that your effort to win far-right votes?”
Jens Spahn rebuked a BBC host who criticised his calls for a burka ban
Since when is fighting for women a right wing approach
Mr Spahn hit back, demanding he was simply campaigning for women’s rights, a task usually undertaken by “liberals”, rather than hardliners.
“When I grew up, actually, fighting for the rights of women was a liberal thing – a leftish thing.
“I wonder now, if you fight for the rights of women – that they are actually able to show their faces – is because of a very reactionary, conservative religious approach where women are forced…”
The German is then interrupted by Sackur, who claims the majority of wearers in Germany “want to wear it”.
Mr Spahn recently described himself as a 'burkaphobe'
Once again Mr Spahn counters his interviewer’s suggestion, he rebukes: “No, sorry Stephen, since when?
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“I’ve heard that all the time, since when is fighting for women and the rights of women and the quality of men and women… Since when is that a very right wing approach?
“That’s new to me, that’s liberal – that use to be a leftish approach.”
Mr Spahn has previously described the process of integration of immigrants as a “herculean task” and argued Germany should expect a “willingness to adapt” by people wanting to live there.
Burka bans across Europe Thu, December 22, 2016
Several European countries have banned full-face veils since France's controversial law in 2011
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France: Became first country in Europe to ban the burka in April 2011, with a penalty fine of 150 euro
“Anyone who thinks that men are worth more than women, who refused to learn German or to send his daughter to school swimming lessons should seek shelter in a different country – one that suits him better,” he said.
“Mr Spahn added: “We face the biggest problem of a lack of willingness to integrate with immigrations from the Arab world.”
He believes the burka symbolises the struggle to integrate, he continued: “At Ikea, I often run into women wearing a full-face veil. This is a social change that I do not want.
“A ban of the full-face veil, meaning the niqab and burka, is overdue as a signal to the world.
“I do not want to see a burka in this country. In this sense, I am a burkaphobe.”
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