STUTTGART, Germany – A German court on Friday ruled in favor of a Muslim teacher who fought an order banning her from wearing a head scarf in classes.
The woman, a 55-year-old German convert to Islam who has worn the garment at work for the past 11 years, was ordered not to wear it under a 2004 law passed by the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Backers of the head scarf ban — which has since been introduced by several other states — maintain that the cloth can be seen as a political symbol. Critics said the law in Baden-Wuerttemberg was unbalanced because it still allowed Christian symbols in the classroom.
The Stuttgart elementary school teacher, whose name was not released, argued that wearing a cloth that covered only her head and not her neck did not constitute a statement of political or religious views.
She also maintained that banning her from wearing the garment violated anti-discrimination rules because nuns are allowed to teach in their habits at public schools. The Stuttgart administrative court upheld that argument.
Baden-Wuerttemberg was the first German state to introduce a head scarf ban.
Annette Schavan, who was then the state education minister and now is the federal education minister, said at the time that the head scarf was "part of the history of women's suppression" while Christian symbols were part of Western tradition.