Catholic teachers face same rules on headscarves

15th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catholic teachers in southern Germany should conform to the same restrictions on religious dress as their Islamic colleagues according to a court ruling

Mannheim -- A law which prohibits Muslim women teachers from wearing headscarves in a German state's public schools also forbids Catholic nuns from wearing their veils in regular classrooms, judges said Wednesday.

The administrative tribunal of Baden-Wuerttemberg state set out the position in a detailed written judgement, two months after ruling verbally that a woman convert to Islam, aged 58 at the time, could not teach in her scarf.

The south-western state has a law that bans "exterior expressions of religious confession." Germany has been split on the scarf issue, with some states tolerating teachers in scarves and others sacking them if they refuse to teach bare-headed.

The judges in the city of Mannheim interpreted the ban on religious dress as applying to all religions, whether to nuns and monks in habits or to male Jewish teachers wearing the kippa.

The law expressly exempts Catholics who teach Catholic doctrine classes in public schools, and the judges said three nuns in the state who teach other subjects had personal exemptions that would not apply to any other sisters in the future. DPA

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