German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere
German Interior Minister Thomas de MaiziereReuters

Germany’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, on Thursday said that the Muslim face veil is not compatible with German society but it would probably be difficult to ban it at the national level, Reuters reports.

His comments come after several high-profile members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc have called for a ban on the burqa and niqab garments, saying they show a lack of integration, suggest women are inferior and could pose security risks.

"We're against people wearing the full veil in Germany - it has no place in our country and it doesn't comply with our understanding of the role of women," de Maiziere was quoted as having told journalists before meeting conservative state interior ministers to discuss security issues in the wake of recent attacks.

Tensions have been high in Germany in recent weeks due to a spate of attacks, including two in the southern state of Bavaria that were both claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.

In the first attack, a 17-year-old Afghani with an ax attacked passengers on a train in Wurzburg before being shot dead by security forces.

In the second incident, an attacker set off a bomb in a restaurant in Ansbach, killing himself and wounding 12 others.

Germany is home to nearly four million Muslims, about five percent of the total population, noted Reuters.

There are no official statistics on the number of women wearing a burqa - which covers the face and body - in Germany but Aiman Mazyek, leader of its Central Council of Muslims, has said hardly any women wear it in the country.

De Maiziere said on Thursday that baring one's face and being able to look other people in the eye was key to ensuring social cohesion. He added that people who go to register themselves with authorities or go to a civil registry office - where marriage ceremonies are conducted, for example - clearly needed to show their faces.

But he also stressed he has reservations about whether banning the face veil would be compatible with the constitution after speaking to constitutional experts about it.

De Maiziere last week unveiled tough new anti-terror measures that will see the speeding up of deportations of convicted criminal migrants but do not include the banning of the face veil due to its incompatibility with the constitution.

Other countries in Europe have taken measures to ban the Muslim face veils. France was the first, having introduced a ban on women wearing the burqa in 2010.

A parliamentary committee in Belgium later voted to ban the burqa as well. Italy has drafted a similar law.

But de Maiziere said that the French ban has not led to a reduction in women wearing them there nevertheless.