German court prohibits young Muslim woman from wearing niqab in class

Two women wearing Islamic niqab veils. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

A judge in Germany has been ordered young Muslim student to stop wearing her full niqab in the classroom. The 18-year old had sued her school, the Sophie Scholl Evening Gymnasium, for blocking her from wearing the religious dress, which only reveals the eyes, on the grounds that it was an obstacle to her educational development. The school argued that the veil did not allow teachers to clearly identify the student and also hindered effective communication between her and the teachers. The student-teacher relationship, the school contended, relies “not only on the spoken word, but also on non-verbal elements and body language.” While it is one of several disputes between a school and students over the face veil in classes, this high-profile case marks one of the first occasions that a German court has actually forbidden the veil. It is a controversial decision, as two constitutional principles clash in the ruling: the freedom of religion principle; and another one that says states are allowed to make their own educational rules. The Islamic face veils are currently a hot topic in Germany, as Chancellor Angela Merkel called the burqa “contrary to integration,” and some ministers want to ban it for that very reason. While some argue that a ban would violate Germany’s religious freedom laws, Jens Spahn — a politician of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Merkel’s party, who first proposed it — told Die Welt, “Anyone who is on their way to Germany [from another country] must be aware that life here will be very different than that at home. They should be even more careful if they really want to live in this Western culture.”

Read the full story at The Independent.


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