Austrian court annuls headscarf ban in primary schools

12th Dec 2020
Austrian court annuls headscarf ban in primary schools

By Askin Kiyagan

VIENNE (AA): The Constitutional Court in Austria on Friday declared “unconstitutional”  and “discriminatory” the ban on headscarves in primary schools and annulled the decision taken by the far-right government in 2019.

The law prevented girls younger than 10 from wearing the headscarf and had been challenged by two children and their parents.

The measure was passed in May 2019 under the previous coalition of the centre-right People’s Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), just days before that government collapsed due to a corruption scandal.

Both parties had made anti-immigration rhetoric and warnings against “parallel societies” a key part of their political messaging and their spokespeople made it clear at the time that the law was targeting the headscarf.

The OeVP-FPOe government had itself said that the patka head covering worn by Sikh boys or the Jewish kippa would not be affected.

Christoph Grabenwarter, the head of the Constitutional Court, said the ban violates equality, right to freedom of thought, worldview, and religion.

Grabenwarter said the law was targeting only Muslim students and caused discrimination in the education system.

The law risks limiting educational opportunities for Muslim female students and may cause them to be excluded from the society, he added.

Grabenwarter said that banning only Muslim religious clothing in the education system would result in stigmatization of the group in society.

He said the ban does not comply with the principle of impartiality of the constitution, adding that justifications given by the government that enacted the law “were not objective.”

Grabenwarter stated that the implementation of the Constitutional Court’s decision to annul the law is Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s legal obligation, and ordered the Education Ministry to cover the court expenses of the family who took the matter to the court.

The current OeVP Education Minister Heinz Fassmann said that the ministry would “take note of the judgement and look into its arguments”.

Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak​​​​​​​

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Austria/Hungary Map by Andrein/Creative Commons/Public Domain]

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