German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday lashed populists seeking to exploit Germany’s refugee influx, but set down a tough line on integration — including a ban on the veil — as she launched into election campaign mode.
Merkel outlined a strategy to counter populism that has consumed key allies abroad and promised that there would be no repeat of last year’s record refugee arrivals.
She also stressed it was legitimate for Germany to expect newcomers to integrate, and this included a rejection of the niqab full-face veil.
“The full veil must be banned wherever it is legally possible,” she told the annual gathering of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Next year’s polls will “not be a walk in the park” as Germany is deeply polarized, Merkel warned, but urged the population to remain “skeptical about simple answers”.
“Rarely is it the simple answers that bring progress to our country,” she said, in a clear reference to the upstart anti-Islam and populist AfD, which Merkel had previously criticised as offering no solutions to problems.