German state bans hijab-clad teachers

The western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous, has banned teachers in public schools from wearing hijab.

The state’s regional parliament, where the conservative Christian Democrats hold a majority, adopted a law banning hijab on Wednesday, May 31. The law was voted against by the Greens and the Social Democrats. North-Rhine Westphalia became the eighth of Germany’s 16 federal states to ban hijab in public schools.

The Muslim minority blasted the hijab school ban as unconstitutional. The Central Council of Muslims in Germany said the new law does not treat all religions as equal, banning only the hijab and not the Christian cross or other religious symbols.

The constitutional court, Germany’s highest tribunal, ruled in July 2003 against a decision by the Baden-Wuerttemberg state to forbid a Muslim teacher from wearing hijab in the classroom. But it said Germany’s 16 states could issue new legislations to ban the Muslim headscarf if they believe it would influence children.

A number of states, including Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, still allow hijab at schools. Others, including Baden-Wurttemberg, Saarland and Lower Saxony, ban teaching staff in state schools from wearing symbols that express religious, political, or ideological affiliation, including hijab.

Islam Online, 1 June 2006