A student in the German town of Osnabrück won’t be allowed to wear her veil to class. The decision comes at a time of heated discussion concerning a nation-wide burqa ban in Germany.
The student, who insisted on wearing her niqab to school, has been denied by a local administrative court. The Sophie Scholl night school in Osnabrück in the northern German state of Lower Saxony had originally accepted the student but reversed its decision when it became clear how she wanted to dress in class.
On Friday, the student had appealed to the Osnabrück Administrative Court. The case was heard just three days later on Monday. Things moved fast because, as a court spokesperson said, “every school day counts.”
The court had ordered the woman to appear in person at the hearing on Monday to defend her reasons. When she didn’t do that because of the media attention the case attracted, the court said its only possible action was to deny her claim.
Calling for a burqa ban
There are no details available on the student except for the fact that she’s a German national and that she’s not a minor anymore, which in Germany means she’s at least 18. Night schools like Sophie Scholl are usually a way for adults to obtain a diploma they didn’t manage to get when they went to school as teenagers.
The case comes at a time when the entire country, not just one school in Osnabrück, is discussing what kinds of veils Muslim women should be allowed to wear in Germany. The interior ministers of states governed by the conservative CDU called for a ban of the niqab and the burqa in public places. With a niqab, the wearer’s face is completely veiled except for a small eye slit. The burqa is a blue garment that covers a woman’s entire body, including her face. It only leaves a mesh screen to see through.
Conservative politicians want the concealing veils banned from public places, including public authority buildings, courtrooms – and schools.
“We unanimously reject the burqa,” Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told public TV network ZDF. “It does not fit in our open country.”
DW’s editor-in-chief, Alexander Kudascheff wrote in a recent op-ed that a burqa ban made sense because it “shows that an open society will not accept just anything.”
Some legal experts, however, say a ban wouldn’t even be possible because Germany’s constitution guarantees religious freedom. And liberal politicians like Thuringia state premier Bodo Ramelow (Left Party) accuse the CDU of moving toward the right edge of the political spectrum and trying to win over right-wing voters in upcoming state elections.