ALI – A historic verdict on the headscarf

A historic verdict on the headscarfLast Friday the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany issued a judgment on the headscarf. The judgment was issued in response to an administrative decision to ban teachers from wearing the headscarf in the classroom Two teachers, claiming to be victimized by the ban, took the decision to court.

The constitutional court reviewed the headscarf ban in 2003 but failed to handle it in terms of substance. In this recent verdict, however, the court stated that the headscarf ban cannot be imposed by law.

Even though it leaves the door open for a ban in special cases of public safety and school security, the verdict can be taken as freedom for the headscarf. For this reason, I believe the judgment will hold historic importance on the European stage and will also affect the stance of other similar institutions including the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on this matter The judgment will be embracive of the German Muslim population.

In conclusion, we may say that like the crucifix, the headscarf is considered a symbol of belief in Germany.I believe it is useful to remind those readers who follow the headscarf issue with reference to Turkey of the background of the German Constitutional Courtand#39s recent judgment.

Unlike commonly held assumptions, Germany is not a secular state where the state and religious affairs are separated from each in the classic sense. The German constitution requires the state to guarantee freedom of religion for the people.

But when observing this responsibility, the state has to remain equally distant to all religions. The state cannot give priority to any religion no matter how influential and widely subscribed it is, and it had the same constitutional responsibility vis-andagrave-vis even the smallest religious groups.

Even though some problems are experienced in the practice of this article in the constitution, the most recent judgment of the constitutional court confirms that some progress has been made in the efforts to integrate Muslims into the systemI can see that while reading these lines on the non-secular Germany, you are considering the situation in secular Turkey. As you know, the state is not impartial in secular Turkey.

The state pays great attention to Sunni Islam by a reliance on a huge budget and thousands of public officers, whereas it neglects and ignores other faith groups. The fact that Sunni Islam is favored, whereas others are ignored and even face repression and discrimination is a poor record of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration, which has been in power for 13 years.

Observing that this party, which identified the headscarf issue and freedom of religion as a major political item, has employed a twisted approach and understanding of freedom has been a huge disappointment.Without focusing much on the AKPand#39s twisted approach to freedom, let me review the substance and core of the German Constitutional Courtand#39s decision.

A number of provinces restricted headscarf freedom with reference to laws after the constitutional courtand#39s decision in 2003. Because the recent applications to the court involved the practices and implementation of the provincial decisions and rules, the decision was once against taken to the constitutional court, which had to review the case in terms of substance.

The judgment of the court is pretty important in a number of respects.In its ruling in 2003, the constitutional court confirmed that the headscarf is not a political symbol.

By this recent judgment, the headscarf was recognized as attire that individuals wear because of their religious beliefs. So we may conclude that the court considered the headscarf within the scope of freedom of religion.

The judgment is pretty important for Muslims in Germany as it confirms that Muslims, like Jews and Christians, move forward to become a faith group entitled to public appearance. The exceptions in emergency and extra cases should not be exaggerated.

Because courts are pretty sensitive in the interpretation of fundamental rights, it is almost impossible for arbitrary exercise of a special or extraordinary exception to the general rule and practice. I hope we also have a political administration setting that respects the constitutional court and its rulings.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman