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German Bundesrat approves ‘burqa ban’ for drivers, beefs up road-race sanctions

The German parliament’s upper house sharpened traffic-related punishments, including a prohibition on face coverings while driving. It’s being seen as a ban on burqas and niqabs — and one Muslim organization isn’t happy.

The final session of the Bundesrat, which represents Germany’s 16 federal states, beforethe country’s national election on September 24 focused in part on traffic laws. And the measure that attracted the most notice was one that will presumably affect the fewest motorists in Germany: a prohibition on driving with significant parts or all of the driver’s face covered.

Although interpreted in some quarters as a ban on burqas and naqibs, the new rules apply to any facial covering, including, for instance, carnival masks and face-obscuring hoods. Lawmakers justified the measures by saying it was necessary to “ensure that a driver’s identity can be determined,” such as by automatic cameras installed to catch speeders. The Bundesrat highlighted this rationale in a tweet announcing the new traffic legislation.

 

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