Reversal of constitutional court’s 2003 ruling hailed as ‘good day for religious freedom
Pegida demonstration in Dresden. Berlin daily Taz warned the anti-Islam protest group would seize on the ruling to argue Europe was being taken over by Islam
Female Muslim teachers in Germany may wear headscarves in class as long as it does not cause disruption in the school, Germany’s top court has said in a ruling that may fuel debate about what some nationalist groups see as creeping “Islamisation”.
The constitutional court reversed its initial 2003 ban on headscarves for teachers, which had led some German states to forbid Muslim headscarves in schools while permitting the wearing of Christian symbols such as crucifixes and nuns’ habits.
The court in Karlsruhe, ruling on a case brought by a Muslim woman blocked from a teaching job because of her headscarf, said religious symbols could only be banned when they posed “not just an abstract but a concrete risk of disruption in schools”.
“This is a good day for religious freedom,” said Volker Beck, a lawmaker from the opposition Greens.
He argued that headgear worn by Muslim, Jewish and Christian women and men was less of a threat to German society than that posed by “opponents of diversity” such as the rightwing Alternative for Germany (AfD), neo-Nazis and extremist Muslim Salafists.
Christine Lueders, head of the federal anti-discrimination agency, welcomed the ruling for “reinforcing religious freedom in Germany”. With education administered by Germany’s 16 states, she called on local authorities to review the relevant rules.
But the Berlin daily TTaz warned that the anti-Islam protest group Pegida, which began by staging small marches in Dresden and soon spawned imitation rallies across Germany and elsewhere, would seize on the ruling to argue that Europe was being taken over by Islam.
Enthusiasm for Pegida, which stands for ”Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the west”, has waned after its members began to be outnumbered by anti-racist demonstrators and the the Pegida founder, Lutz Bachmann, posed with a Hitler moustache in a photograph.“Pegida will celebrate,” said Taz on its front page, beneath a photo of coloured headscarves in a shop window in Berlin.
But there are widespread misgivings in Germany about the influence of its 4 million-strong Muslim community. One survey carried out in late 2014, before the blacklash caused by the Islamist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, showed 57% of Germans thought Islam posed a threat to their society.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has accused the Pegida organisers of spreading hatred against immigrants, whom she says Germany, with its shrinking workforce and ageing population, badly needs.
Origional Post here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/13/muslim-teachers-can-wear-headscarves-german-court-rules