The government of the western German state of Baden-Württemberg agreed on Tuesday to ban full-face coverings, often known as burqa or niqab, in schools.
The new rule comes as the topic of Muslim face coverings has been hotly debated in Germany and follows a ruling by a court in Hamburg that reversed that city’s own ban.
Baden-Württemberg’s city council’s decision to ban full-face coverings, typically worn by ultra-conservative Muslim girls, matches the ban for teachers that is already in effect.
State Premier and prominent Green politician Winfried Kretschmann conceded that cases of full-face veiling in schools were rare, but said that nonetheless, a legal ruling was necessary for the rare cases.
Kretschmann said that full-face veiling did not belong in a free society. But he added that such a ban at the university level, where students are adults, was a more complex question. For now, the rule in Baden-Wurttemberg will only apply to primary and secondary education.
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Baden-Württemberg Green party leaders Sandra Detzer and Oliver Hildenbrand have previously referred to the burqa and the niqab “symbols of oppression.”
But opponents say that such rulings can lead to the marginalization of Muslim communities in Germany.
A school student in Hamburg recently fought and won a legal battle allowing her to wear the attire, though the court noted that a ban might be possible if the state’s school laws were altered, which local politicians are now working on.
Filiz Polat, migration policy spokesperson for the Greens’ federal parliamentary group, has said that the freedom to wear religious symbols or not was one of the features of a democratic society.
Currently, full-face veils have been banned in neighboring countries such as The Netherlands, France, Denmark and Austria.
Source: DW news