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Cablegate: German Court Approves Ban On Teacher Headscarves

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: German Court Approves Ban on Teacher Headscarves

REF: A) 98 Frankfurt 6465; B) 00 Frankfurt 3078;

C) 01 Frankfurt 6028; D) 03 Frankfurt 8335;
E) 04 Frankfurt 1390; F) 04 Hamburg 0001

1. SUMMARY: On June 24, the Federal Administrative Court
in Leipzig upheld the Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W) law banning
headscarves on public school teachers. It dismissed the
appeal of Fereshta Ludin, whose case has become a bellwether
for Germany's tolerance of Muslim religious expression in
public life. END SUMMARY.

2. In April, the B-W state government became the first
German state to outlaw the wearing of headscarves for Muslim
teachers in public schools (ref E). On June 24, the Second
Senate of the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled
that the B-W headscarf law is in accordance with the German
constitution (Basic Law), thus dismissing Ludin's lawsuit.
The Second Senate further stated that reference to Christian
and Jewish traditions in the law does not constitute
preferential treatment to those religions.

3. With yesterday's verdict, the court upheld its July 2002
decision against Ludin. In November 2003, Germany's Supreme
Court (Federal Constitutional Court) returned the case to
the Administrative Court pending a new law regulating the
issue. The Administrative Court also considered the case of
a Muslim teacher from Lower Saxony, ruling that she can keep
her position after she declared at the hearing that she will
now remove her headscarf during instruction.

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4. The B-W state government and opposition both welcomed
the verdict. B-W Education Minister Annette Schavan (CDU)
indicated that the state will now move to dismiss two other
female teachers who have refused to take off their

5. COMMENT: With this latest verdict, the B-W legislation
has overcome its first constitutional hurdle. Ms. Ludin
will likely appeal again to the Constitutional Court. That
court, which had avoided a clear-cut decision last November,
will need to come to a unequivocal verdict. In the
meantime, the image of German authorities compelling Muslim
women to remove their headscarves will continue to
complicate relations with Germany's Muslims. END COMMENT.


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