Speaking to a group of University of Doha students in Qatar, German President Christian Wulff stood behind his country's ban on burqas in schools, saying the full-body veil and education don't mix.
Teachers are forbidden to wear the burqa in German schools
German President Christian Wulff wrapped up a trip to the Gulf states on Monday, with a question-and-answer session at the University of Doha in Qatar. Wulff answered a veiled student's question with a defense of a ban on burqas in German schools.
"The conscious decision to cover yourself up clashes with the duty of the state to educate its children," he said. "Showing your face is part of a free society."
A person wearing a burqa in Europe appeared to be calling into question the equality between men and women, Wulff said. "But we don't want to question this equality."
Wulff is set to return to Berlin on Monday evening after a three-day trip to Qatar and Kuwait. A planned trip to Bahrain was cancelled due to ongoing anti-government protests there.
Wulff commented on the unrest currently taking place across the Arab world, saying he had a "great sympathy" for those standing up for freedom and democracy.
"There's no reason to use weapons against your own people," he said, referring to the situation in Libya. Tentative estimates suggest that at least 1,000 people have been killed in the violence, as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi attempts to suppress the civilian revolt.
Wulff also gave an interview with broadcaster Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha. Westerwelle said Al Jazeera had "had played a very positive role" in the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Author: Holly Fox (dapd, dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer
France woke up to a new political landscape Monday. The victory of the right in local elections and rejection of the ruling Socialists set the stage for the presidential race in 2017. Elizabeth Bryant reports from Paris.
Japan's industry is losing steam, with industrial production in February dropping by 3.4 percent over January. Monday's data follow lackluster inflation figures published on Friday.
Greece is set to present a series of proposals to international creditors in a bid to try to unblock a tranche of loans and avoid a debt default. Germany has said it is opposed to giving Athens any more loans.