Germany: German court rules against Muslim teachers wearing head scarves

The North German city-state of Bremen has been directed not to allow a Muslim female teacher to teach after she refused to stop wearing a head scarf.
The judgement was passed Monday by the superior administrative court in Bremen.
The teacher aspirant, who is a university graduate having majored in German and Religion, had been refused a teacher's position by the school authorities because she refused to stop wearing her head scarf.

In their ruling, the judges ruled their decision was taken after careful consideration of the fact that the head scarf constituted an "abstract danger for the education mandate given to the state and also for the peace in school".

The court's ruling upheld an amendment to the law passed by the Bremen parliament in June, regulating the wearing of religious symbols by the teachers.

The amendment stipulates that the appearance of a teacher ought not to disturb or upset the religious and philosophical sensitivities of school children and those being taught and impair the religious and philosophical neutrality of public schools.

According to the judges, a head scarf constitutes a deliberate and strong expression of a religious conviction.

School children would not have understood this, the judges said.

Muslim school girls could be discouraged as a result of the uncompromising appearance of a female teacher wearing the head scarf from discontinuing the use of their own head scarves.

The superior court also in effect overruled a decision by a lower court which had directed the school authorities to allow the woman to teach.

However, the Bremen Parliament had not passed then the regulation concerning the wearing of religious symbols in schools.

Bremen is not the only state to face such a controversy caused by a defiant Muslim female teacher insisting on wearing the head scarf.

The southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg was also embroiled in the past in a similar controversy involving an Afghan female teacher who insisted on wearing the head scarf in class.

The school authorities had refused to allow her to teach as long as she wore the head scarf; she referred the matter to court which also ruled against her, though it observed that the state had to make explicit provision prohibiting the use of religious symbols.

Germany has a population of some five million Muslims, mainly from Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia.

Via Human Rights Without Frontiers, (08.09.2005)