When I’m being asked, if I am for a burka ban or not, it’s hard to give a simple “yes or no” answer. Unless they ask in German – Germans have a wonderful word for it: ”jein”, meaning simultaneously “ja” and “nein”.
I am for a ban on hiding your face in public. And that’s a huge difference.
Banning a specific element of a specific religion/culture is a form of discrimination. Unless that thing hurts others, obviously. Banning child circumcision wouldn’t be a discrimination against Jews and Muslims, but a decent thing to do – saving innocent babies from getting their genitals mutilated without their consent.
You might argue that the burkas do actually hurt people as well. Women might be forced to wear them against their will. And seeing someone with their face totally covered in a public space (especially in a bank) certainly will make others justifiably uncomfortable and it is a threat to public safety.
But well, so is wearing a balaclava or a mask, isn’t it? So if our concern is really about the security and doesn’t just stem from a mindless islamophobia, then let’s just call it “a ban on covering your face in public” without mentioning any religion or any particular clothing. Niqabs and burkas would be technically forbidden in public that way (and for a valid reason), while the religious freedom of Muslin women could still be expressed by wearing a hijab, which does show the face. How about that, uh?
But there is one situation, where I would ban even hijabs. Not only them, but also crosses, kippahs and all the other religious symbols.
If you’re a civil servant at work (including teachers), I expect you to be totally impartial and objective in doing your job. I don’t wanna know about your religious beliefs, I don’t want them influencing your administrative decisions, and I don’t want to feel pressure to share them to get better treatment from you.
Outside of work, sure, you’re free to be as Muslim, as Christian or as Hindu as you want – just like any other citizen. But once you become a representative of a secular country, you need to keep the neutrality.