Germany: Labor court upholds Muslim teacher’s right to wear hijab

29th Aug 2020
Germany: Labor court upholds Muslim teacher’s right to wear hijab

By Cuneyt Karadag

 

BERLIN (AA):The capital Berlin’s ban on teachers who are wearing headscarves is unconstitutional, a top German court ruled Thursday.

A Muslim teacher who was not allowed to teach in Berlin state schools because she wore a headscarf was “discriminated against because of her religion,” the Federal Labor Court [Bundesarbeitsgericht] ruled.

Dirk Behrendt, Berlin’s senator of justice, argued against the ban, writing on Twitter: “In a multi-religious society, it must be about what one has in their head and not on their head.”

Under Berlin’s 2005 neutrality act, which prevents civil servants from wearing religious clothing and symbols, teachers in the city were banned from wearing headscarves.

The woman who was told she would could not teach in Berlin if she continued to wear a headscarf brought the case to the lower Berlin-Brandenburg labor court.

The court said that Berlin’s Neutrality Law (Neutralitätsgesetz), which forbids civil servants from wearing religious symbols, is a form of discrimination.

The case originated when the Muslim plaintiff, a graduate computer scientist, applied to be a teacher at a school in the German capital.

But shortly after her interview she was informed that, according to Berlin regulations, she was not allowed to wear the head covering in school lessons due to the city’s Neutrality Law.

Under the law, exceptions could only be made for religious instruction and vocational schools.

After the woman replied that she did not want to take off her headscarf, she was turned down for the position.

In 2018 the lower court ordered Berlin to pay the woman €5,159 ($6,098) in compensation, saying headscarves could only be banned if there was a concrete threat to peace at school.

Thursday’s court decision came after Berlin filed an appeal, citing the neutrality act. But the federal court sided with the lower court ruling.

The federal court also cited a 2015 ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court stating freedom of religion could not be restricted due to an “abstract danger” but only if “sufficient concrete danger” is seen in the disturbance of school peace.

*Writing and contributions by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak

Additional report from the Local

[Map of Germany by CIA/Public Domain]

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