A Muslim teacher has lost her case to overturn a law that bans wearing of religious clothing and symbols by state employee in Berlin, Germany.
Justice Arne Boyer said the city’s so-called “neutrality law” — a rule that prohibits wearing of religious attire for teachers, court officials and police — was constitutional and should supersede freedom of religious expression.
However, the court did allow the young Muslim woman, who did not appear at the court hearing, to continue teaching at older vocational students at public secondary school.
“Primary school children should be free of the influence that can be exerted by religious symbols,” said court spokesman Martin Dressler.
Germany’s 16 states all have different rulings on hijab.
In 2015, Germany’s constitutional court overturned a blanket ban on teachers covering their heads with headscarves. However, its laws still ban all civil servants from covering their faces unless it’s for safety or health reasons, like firefighters who wear breathing masks.
Since the 2015 ruling, all of the 16 states have their own laws regarding the hijab for Muslim teachers.
The Berlin teacher case has sparked various reactions in the capital city.
Seyran Ates, the founder of Berlin’s liberal mosque, lauded the ruling, since he also campaigns to keep religious clothing and symbols out of schools.
However, Zeynep Cetin of the Network Against Discrimination and Islamophobia, says the ruling puts a professional ban on the Muslim teacher for teaching at primary schools.
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller has also shown his support for the neutrality law but other politicians are arguing against it.