German state bans burqas and face veils in schools, saying they do not belong in a free society
- Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany announced the ban on Tuesday
- It will apply to girls in primary and secondary education across the state
- State Premier said the full-face coverings do not belong in a free society
A German state has banned the use of burqas in school, saying that the full-face Islamic covering does not belong in a free society.
Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany announced the ban on Tuesday. The state has already banned the use of such coverings for teachers.
State Premier Winfried Kretschmann said that it was rare for school girls to wear burqas but that a ban was required for the exceptional cases.
The new rule will apply to girls attending primary and secondary schools in the state.
Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany announced the ban on Tuesday (File image)
Kretschmann added that such coverings, which are usually worn by conservative Muslim women and girls, do not belong in a free society, although he admitted that banning them at university level was a more complex matter.
Members of Germany’s ruling CDU party have long called for a ban on full-face coverings in schools.
The country’s left-wing Green party has been divided on the issue, but in Baden-Württemberg, Green party leaders were in agreement with the CDU, with state party leaders Sandra Detzer and Oliver Hildenbrand referring to the burqa and the niqab as ‘symbols of oppression.’
Other party members have argued that a ban could stoke tensions and negatively impact cultural integration.
It comes after a ruling earlier this year which saw a court in Hamburg overturn its own ruling on full-face coverings.
In February, a German court overturned a school’s niqab ban after a 16-year-old girl was told she had to show her face to teachers.
Hamburg education officials had ordered the girl’s mother to ensure that her daughter did not wear the veil at school, a decision which an administrative court overruled.
State law does not currently permit the authorities to impose such a ban, the court said in a statement.
The teenager, who is studying retail sales, has ‘a right to unconditional protection of her freedom of belief’ the statement added.
Hamburg’s social-democratic education senator Ties Rabe immediately said that he would seek to change the state law.
Each German state has its own education ministry, and the 16 states have differing laws on headscarves in schools.
In 2015, Germany’s Constitutional Court overturned a blanket ban on teachers wearing them, ruling that it was against religious freedom. However, eight of Germany’s states maintain restrictions on wearing the hijab by female teachers.
Germany’s neighbouring countries including The Netherlands, France, Austria and Denmark have introduced a so-called ‘burqa ban’ to varying degrees.