Headscarf ban for girls legally feasible, says German legal expert

02.09.2019

A German constitutional expert said on Thursday that a headscarf ban for girls at school would be legally feasible up to a certain age, as some politicians have shown openness to such a law.

Expert Martin Nettesheim found that a ban on headscarves would not be in conflict with the basic right to freedom of religion nor with parents' rights regarding their children's care and upbringing. A ban on headscarves for girls up to age 14 could be justified and found proportionate, said Nettesheim, who had been asked to review the issue by the women's rights organisation Terre des Femmes.

Until that age, children are not legally deemed able to decide for themselves in matters of belief or world view, he wrote, and parents' rights to make decisions for their children aren't centred around the wishes of the father or mother, but the interests of the child.

It's unclear how many girls would be affected by a headscarf ban. Islamic associations have described the discussion as "Islam bashing" and "symbolic debate", and say there are only a handful of cases. Additionally, they have pointed out that the religious obligation to wear a headscarf applies only from "religious maturity, i.e. puberty." Germany's headscarf ban debate was renewed in May after Austria's parliament passed a law prohibiting primary school pupils from covering their heads for religious or ideological reasons. The German government's integration commissioner, Annette Widmann-Mauz, has been open to considering such a law in Germany.    (dpa)

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