Debate Over Headscarf Continues; Potential Bill Would Ban Religious Symbols in Public Service Jobs

August 5, 2004

Source: Inter Press Service News Agency

On August 5, 2004 Inter Press Service News Agency reported, "An Allensbach Institute survey in Germany indicated recently that 53 percent of Germans regard the headscarf as a form of repression, and something not reconcilable with western values. The German states Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saarland and Lower Saxony have all passed laws banning Islamic headscarves from public schools...Now the interior minister of Berlin city-state Ehrhart Koerting has announced a draft bill, which if confirmed later this year by the city's ruling coalition government of Social Democrats and far leftist members of the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialists), will ban symbols of 'all religious faiths and creeds.' It incorporates Muslim headscarves, Jewish skullcaps and Christian crosses. Some 60,000 out of 140,000 Berlin teachers, members of the police force and workers in the city-state's judicial system could be affected if the bill is approved...[Berlin-born Ronald (Zayd) Paris] is disappointed by the attention to the Muslim 'headscarves issue' in Germany. 'Thirty years ago most people in the German countryside were wearing headscarves, and nobody got upset about that,' he says. 'Now offence is taken when Muslim women wear them to conceal their hair'...Lale Lucan, 29, is a Turkish law student in the German capital...In a recent interview in Brigitte, a German women's magazine, she speaks of being asked sometimes to 'take your headscarf off so that we can accept you.' That kind of talk does not impress her. 'For the first 24 years of my life I did not wear a headscarf, and I was still the unaccepted foreigner who should go back to Turkey. But I was born and grew up here. I have a German pass. I'm not convinced that putting my headscarf aside will make me more a part of German society.'"