May 9, 2018 / 3:41 PM / 11 days ago

German teacher barred from wearing headscarf at work

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German primary school teacher who had wanted to wear her headscarf to work cannot do so, a Berlin court ruled on Wednesday and pointed to a neutrality policy that prohibits civil servants from wearing religious clothing.

This is the latest case in a wider controversy in Germany around wearing religious clothing and especially Muslim dress in public, following a proposal by leading conservative politicians to ban headscarves for school girls aged under 14.

“Primary school children should be free of the influence that can be exerted by religious symbols,” said court spokesman Martin Dressler.

The school had prevented the plaintiff from teaching whilst wearing her headscarf.

Dressler said that despite the court’s decision, it remained in question whether Berlin’s neutrality policy was in line with the federal constitution which enshrines religious freedom.

“It is likely that this verdict will be appealed and a higher court will look at it,” he said.

In 2015 the federal constitutional court ruled that a general prohibition of the headscarf in state schools was not compatible with the constitution and the freedom of faith. It said a ban could be enforced only in individual cases of “sufficiently specific danger.”

Reporting by Laura Dubois; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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