Germany: Human rights group against headscarf ban

Germany: Human rights group against headscarf ban

Laws banning female teachers from wearing the Islamic headscarf in parts of Germany violate the rights of Muslim women, according to a report published Thursday by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The ban, in force in half of the 16 German states, "discriminates against Muslim women, excluding them from teaching and other public sector employment on the basis of their faith," the report said.

HRW said countries that forbid the wearing of the headscarf, or hijab, violate women's rights just as much as nations that force women to wear it.

"The measures effectively force women to choose between their employment and the manifestation of their religious beliefs, violating their right to freedom of religion and equal treatment," the New York-based HRW said.

The Islamic headscarf has been the subject of heated political debate in Germany, home to three million Muslims and the biggest Turkish community outside Turkey.

Following a series of court cases, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled it was up to Germany's states to decide their policy, prompting an even split amongst the 16 regions.

"The regulations are not abstract concerns. The restrictions have a profound effect on women's lives," HRW said.

Female teachers refusing to remove their headscarf have been reprimanded and in some cases dismissed, the report said, citing testimony from dozens affected by the ban.

"To renounce the headscarf is very difficult. On the first day I 'disguised' myself in the school toilet. When a colleague spoke to me, I broke down in tears," said one woman identified in the report as Rabia.

"My son asked me, 'what is more important, Allah or work?' I answered him that it is complicated," she added.


Source: AFP (English)

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