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Thursday, June 01, 2006

"German State Bans Hijab-clad Teachers"

Germany’s most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia, joins seven other states in forbidding teachers in public schools from wearing the Muslim headscarf.

The law banning Muslim teachers from wearing headscarves was adopted on Wednesday by the regional parliament of the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia....

That means that Muslim teachers in half of all German states are forbidden to wear headscarves. With the exception of Berlin, those states — Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Bremen, Hesse, Lower Saxony and Saarland — are all in the western part of Germany, and the majority of the country’s 8 million Turks live there and in the capital....

The hijab, or headscarf, meant to shield Muslim women from the eyes of men outside their family, has been the subject of growing debate in several parts of Europe for more than a decade. But it especially intensified following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington....

Muslim groups have fiercely criticized the bans as compromising their freedom of religious expression. Muslims makes up Germany’s third largest religious community, after Protestants and Catholics.

The German state laws tend to stop short of limits set by controversial new legislation in neighboring France which outlaws Islamic headscarves and other religious insignia in state schools outright, applying to both teachers and students. Still, in some states such as Berlin, the wearing of headscarves by Muslims is banned for all civil servants. [Link]

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