Muslim German teacher allowed to wear veil (was: Re: The veil issue again - reply to Tom)

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Wed Sep 24 08:22:46 MDT 2003

Deutsche Welle has a report about the case:

High Court Rules Headscarves Okay for Teachers

Germany's highest court on Wednesday confirmed the right of a female Muslim
teacher to wear a headscarf in the classroom. The move lays to rest a
long-standing row in Germany, that has caused controversy all over Europe.
However on Wednesday, deputy presiding judge Winfried Hassemer said the
court decision, which overturned the October ruling of the Federal
Administrative Court, shouldn't be interpreted as victory for the claimant.
"it seems as if the Constitutional court is of the opinion, that a teacher
wearing a headscarf in school corresponds to the constitution. That is not
the case. It only looks like it," he said.
The Constitutional Court underlined that though Germany's constitutional law
did not explicitly forbid the wearing of headscarves in the classroom in
state-run schools in the first place, there was a possibility to legally
enact such a ban.
The court stressed that the German state's neutrality on religion shouldn't
be understood as a strict separation of church and state. Thus, if federal
states didn't want to employ teachers wearing a headscarf, they first need
to create unambiguous laws that expressly forbid religious symbols in the
classroom, the court said. In Ludin's case, such a legal ban wasn't in place
in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Baden-Württemberg's Education Minister, Annette Schavan of the conservative
Christian Democratic Party, said after the decision she would examine the
ruling in close detail. "After that the state parliament will decide if
Baden-Württemberg should have such a legal regulation in place."
Political parties have given a mixed reaction to the constitutional court's
ruling. Volker Beck, parliamentary leader of the Green party, the junior
partner in the ruling coalition, hailed the decision. "Karlsruhe has made a
good decision," he said. He said it was the job of the state legislatures to
draw up clear laws regarding "which form and to what extent religious
symbols have a place in schools."
Head of the liberal democrats, Guido Westerwelle called it "wise" that the
constitutional court had "passed on the decision where it rightly belonged:
in the state legislatures." He said it was the responsibility of the state
to ensure religious neutrality in schools and to protect it. "Religion
belongs in religion classes," he said.
Parliamentary spokesman for the conservative Christian Democrats, Norbert
Röttgen said it was to be welcomed that the wearing of headscarves in
schools could be forbidden. He said it had to be considered that teachers
have a role-model function.


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