Germany: headscarves ban overturned

A German state's ban on women teachers wearing Islamic headscarves was ruled void by a court Friday.

The Baden-Wuerttemberg administrative tribunal ruled that the state had no right to order a 55-year-old German woman who has been Muslim since 1984 to teach bareheaded.

Judges said this was discriminatory, because Baden-Wuerttemberg did not require Catholic nuns to teach in public schools without veils.

The state had argued that teachers in public schools had to demonstrate political and religious neutrality.
The plaintiff has taught since 1973 in a combined primary and secondary school where 60 per cent of the pupils are non-German.

She told judges she always wore a scarf tied around her head like a hat, with her throat visible. In this form it was not an overtly religious symbol at the school in the industrial city of Stuttgart.

"There has been no criticism of the scarf at the school for the past 10 years," she told the tribunal.

Muslim schoolchildren and parents were glad to have a teacher of their own faith to discuss special needs with, she added.

The state's legislation does not expressly ban scarves, but forbids "outward expressions that undermine the neutrality of the government or peace between political and religious creeds in school."

The ban did not apply to children.

Source: Expatica (English)

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