German state plans burka ban in schools

17th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

The prime minister of the German state of Hesse said in an interview Sunday that he wants a ban on the wearing of Islamic dress covering the whole body in schools.

17 December 2007

Wiesbaden, Germany (dpa) - The prime minister of the German state of Hesse said in an interview Sunday that he wants a ban on the wearing of Islamic dress covering the whole body in schools.

This was the best way to improve the integration of Muslim female students and counteract religious pressure on them from within their own culture, Premier Roland Koch told the news magazine Focus.

He said girls wearing a burka, a traditional outer garment that cloaks the entire body, could not take part in lessons as equals because of their conspicuous dress.

But Koch, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, said he had no plans for a ban on students wearing headscarves, attire which teachers in the state are forbidden to wear.

A spokeswoman for the organization which looks after the interests of foreigners in the state warned Koch against using religion as a theme to gain votes in the Hesse election on January 27.

"We don't know of a single schoolgirl in Hesse who wears a burka to school. We find this announcement incomprehensible and believe it is out of touch with reality," Ulrike Foraci said.

Last week a regional court in the state, where Frankfurt is located, ruled that a headscarf ban for women civil servants, including teachers, did not violate the state's constitution.

The rule, introduced in 2004, forbids public servants from wearing articles of clothing that "could endanger confidence in the neutrality of their carrying out their official duties."

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