German State Bans Headscarf for Teachers

April 1, 2004

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

On April 1, 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran an Associated Press article that reported, "A conservative German state on Thursday became the nation's first to ban Muslim teachers from wearing headscarves in public schools, taking a stand in a debate that has split public and political opinion. Legislators in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg approved the law with dissent only from the opposition Green party, which argued it was unbalanced because it still allowed Christian symbols in the classroom. The measure could be open to challenge because Germany's supreme court ruled last year that teachers are allowed to wear headscarves unless state laws ban them, and that any such laws should treat all religions equally. The ruling stemmed from the case of Fereshta Ludin, a German of Afghan origin who battled through the courts after an elementary school in Baden-Wuerttemberg state denied her a job in 1998 because she insisted on wearing the scarf while teaching. In Thursday's debate in the state capital, Stuttgart, state education minister Annette Schavan said the headscarf was 'part of the history of women's suppression' while Christian symbols were part of Western tradition. She also alluded to many Germans' view that the headscarf is an Islamic political symbol. 'The headscarf has no place in school because of its ambiguous symbolism,' Schavan said."