German Teachers’ Dress Must Conform to “Western Christian” Values

The Constitutional Court in the region of Bavaria upheld a state law January 15 banning the headscarf after the country's Islamic organization mounted a court challenge to the law. The court ruled that application of the law neither violated religious freedom nor was discriminatory.

Catholic sisters wearing habits with veils, an increasingly rare sight in Europe, does not contradict the ruling, the court added, because such clothing represents "Christian and western" values.

The Bavarian law, introduced in November 2004, prohibits teachers from wearing clothes that represent views "incompatible with the basic values of the constitution and its educational goals including western Christian educational and cultural values."

One Christian value the court ruled could not be imparted by a woman wearing Islamic headdress is the equality of the sexes. A teacher wearing a headscarf "isn't in the position credibly to mediate and embody constitutional educational goals, particularly the equal treatment of men and woman," the court said.

On the same day, Spiegel magazine's online edition, in an article hostile to the resurgence of religious faith in Europe, both Christian and Islamic, affirmed that many secularized Europeans are starting to view the headscarf as a symbol of the growing power of Muslim fundamentalism.

Wolfgang Bosbach, a federal lawmaker for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, said in a television interview that the Islamic head scarf represented a "deliberate separation from western values, and that is not compatible with our constitution."

A lawyer for the Islamic Religious Community said some of its members were considering taking their case to the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany's highest court.

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