Legal Limbo: Lawyers Seek Clarity on Headscarves in Court

Source: Spiegel International

By Joachim Wagner

The German court system has a patchwork of rules and regulations about whether female lawyers should be permitted to wear the hijab, or Muslim headscarf, in court. Experts say the lack of legal clarity is unsustainable, and that a big debate is brewing.



Three times judges have taken issue with the headscarf worn by one female lawyer in Berlin. They declared that by wearing it, the lawyer, as an “officer of the court,” was in violation of the ideological and religious neutrality of the justice system. All three times the Muslim lawyer, who has requested to remain anonymous, agreed to compromise.

For two of the trials in question, the lawyer removed her headscarf, under which she wore, in the words of Berlin court spokesman Ulrich Wimmer “a type of cap.” In the third case, Wimmer says, the lawyer “wore her headscarf differently, fastening it the back so that it looked more like a peasant’s headscarf.” The judges were satisfied, finding that with these changes the lawyer’s head covering “no longer had a religious appearance.”

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