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Dec 16, 2016 - Zoltán Kovács

Chancellor Merkel’s call for a ban on the burqa and why it mattered to this week’s EU Council meeting

At the party congress of the German CDU earlier this month, Chancellor Angela Merkel surprised some with her call to ban the burqa.

The “full facial veil is inappropriate,” she said, “and should be banned wherever it is legally possible.”

Some observers have dismissed the statement as a mere political gesture ahead of federal elections next year, but clearly a subtle shift has occurred. Finally, it seems that common sense is prevailing.

In her speech following her re-election as party leader, Chancellor Merkel also said, “Not all of the 900,000 refugees who arrived last year will be able to stay,” adding that she supports increased efforts to deport migrants whose asylum applications were rejected.

Add to that the fact that she made reference to human-traffickers who are exploiting the crisis and that the CDU recently adopted a political declaration to reduce the number of migrants entering Germany.

During the last year and a half of the migration crisis, it was difficult for us to point out that not everyone is a refugee and should not be automatically granted asylum. We were denounced as intolerant and xenophobic. Now, we have the chancellor of Germany reminding us that asylum seekers must follow rules and regulations, that those who do not meet the criteria will be deported and that there should be limits to the numbers.

That’s a victory for common sense, the kind of reasonable approach that Hungary has been promoting since the beginning of this crisis.

Back in 2010, Chancellor Merkel said that the attempt to build a multi-cultural society has “failed, utterly failed.” Germany had taken in many guest workers, she said at the time, but the idea that people of very different cultures could live together “side by side” did not work. In her speech earlier this month in Essen, she said that the full-face veil should be banned wherever possible because it is “inappropriate.”

That’s not a big difference from her “multi-kulti has failed” remark, but it’s noteworthy because the chancellor is affirming the fact that European society has identity. The cultures of our nation states are not some hodgepodge of multiculturalism, but we have a cultural identity and mass immigration has an impact on our identity.

Prime Minister Orbán has been saying that for some time now. We’re pleased to hear it coming from the chancellor.

The EU heads of state and government gathered this week in Brussels for the European Council meeting, and Prime Minister Orbán went into the meeting expecting another fight over immigration. The threat that this largely illegal mass immigration poses to Europe is a valid issue and European countries should work together to agree on a viable solution. That solution should make a priority of restoring law and order at the external borders and within the European Union, and it should also protect European identity.

The Council meeting failed to produce an agreement on the issue, but the fight is not over yet. Nevertheless, the sounds coming recently from Germany give us hope that common sense may yet prevail.