German court upholds ban on head scarves

A court on Monday upheld a ban on Muslim teachers wearing head scarves in the schools of a German state under a law that says teachers’ attire must be in line with “western Christian” values.

A Berlin-based Islamic association had complained about the law, which authorities in the conservative-run state of Bavaria have used to ban head scarves while allowing Roman Catholic nuns to continue to wear their head-covering habits in schools.

The Bavarian Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that the application of the law in the state neither violated religious freedom nor was discriminatory.

However, a lawyer for the Islamic Religious Community said some of its members were considering taking their case to the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany’s highest court.

Authorities in several states, including Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hesse, have introduced similar head scarf bans.

Judge Karl Huber insisted the Bavarian law did not favor the Christian faith. But because teachers must transmit the values of the constitution, the religious feelings of students and parents must be considered, the court said.

Associated Press, 15 January 2007

See also “Bavaria bans teacher headscarves”, BBC News, 12 November 2004