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Germany: School bans Muslim children from prayer

3rd Mar 2017
Germany: School bans Muslim children from prayer

BERLIN (AA) – A high school in Germany’s western city of Wuppertal has banned Muslim students from publicly praying in the school building, sparking a heated debate in social media.

Johannes Rau all-day high school asked teachers on Feb. 16 to issue a “friendly warning” to students who perform prayers in the building, a leaked document circulated in social media has revealed.

The school management said the ritual washing at the school toilets, and publicly praying in the school building are not permitted. It also urged teachers to report names of students who don’t observe the rules.

As part of the new measure, first reported by “Der Western” on Thursday, staff have been asked to “identify the names” and “report” any cases of Muslim students praying in school to management.

The controversial ban has drawn widespread criticism in social media, but was backed by the country’s far-right party Alternative for Germany, or AfD.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, AfD’s Wuppertal branch argued the move has demonstrated once again the failed migration policies of the old parties.

The message, which was later posted on Facebook, has since sparked uproar on social media, with one user asking: “Why can not they pray? And in this, a country as deeply religious as Germany, which has become as open and tolerant as we are today.”

“Even our shepherdess constantly calls upon a thorough knowlege of the Bible,” he added in an apparent reference to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Referring to Germany’s Constitution, another user asked: “What was that again about religious freedom? Article 4 of the German Constitution?”

Elsewhere on Facebook other users praised the decision: “I think the letter’s great. Such things do not belong in a school.”

Another asked: “Can we allow them to roll out their carpets in the school?”

he ban in Wuppertal isn’t the first instance in which schools have dealt with prayer by Muslim students.

he ban in Wuppertal isn’t the first instance in which schools have dealt with prayer by Muslim students.

In 2011, a high-school student from Berlin-Wedding went to court, because he was not allowed to pray publicly at his school on Fridays.

Germany’s Administrative Court rejected his complaint, however, on the grounds that his prayers would disturb the school peace.

Germany’s Administrative Court rejected his complaint, however, on the grounds that his prayers would disturb the school peace.

Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe, and a large majority of its four million Muslims are well-integrated.

While freedom of religion is guaranteed under Germany’s constitution, several court decisions in the past backed restrictive measures if prayers would undermine school peace. Neither Johannes Rau management nor student families has made public any information that warrants such measures.

Additional report from dw.com

[Photo: Wuppertal Mosque by Pitichinaccio/Public Domain]

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