Berlin: School must provide prayer space

Berlin: School must provide prayer space

The Berlin administrative court has ruled that school must provide room for a Muslim pupil to pray once a day according to Islamic rites outside of class time. But education authorities are considering an appeal.

The 16-year-old, Yunus M., had filed a lawsuit against his school because he wanted to comply with his prayer obligations as a devout Muslim.

In the first such legal ruling in Germany, the court said on Tuesday it saw no disturbance of school operations by the prayer, referring to the freedom of religion. The court said this basic right didn't only refer to inner freedom to believe in a certain religion, but also the external freedom to express it. This included prayer. It couldn't be expected from a devout pupil that he only pray outside of school.

The court spokesman, Stephan Groscurth, said this was an isolated case.

"But other Muslim pupils can refer to it," Groscurth said. The courts would then have to rule on each concrete case one at a time, he said.

The school is now obligated to allow Yunus M. to pray in a separate room outside of class time for a 10-minute period. The school director, Brigitte Burchardt, said she was disappointed by the ruling.

"If this is a precedence ruling, we cannot sustain school operations as they are," Burchardt said. If only eight more pupils demanded similar treatment, she wouldn't know how to implement it, she said.

"I have to consider the freedom of 650 pupils," Burchardt said. Up to 90 percent of them are from migrant backgrounds. All major world religions are represented in the Diesterweg High School in Berlin-Wedding.

But the ruling judge Uwe Wegener said he did not see the acute danger of a wide number of pupils demanding rooms for prayer. Wegener also said he could not determine in this case that Yunus' acts of prayer caused or deepened conflicts between pupils of various religions in day-to-day school life.


Source: DW-World (English)

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