Headscarves for Islamic women defended

2nd December 2003, Comments 0 comments

2 December 2003 , BERLIN - A group of liberal German women have weighed into the Islamic headscarf issue, calling for it to be accepted if schoolteachers wished to wear one. Like other European nations, Germany has mainly adopted the secularist stance that religious symbols should be banned from public schools. However its constitutional court has said headscarves can only be banned by explicit legislation, not by official fiat. Moslem women who want to wear the scarves received backing Monday from various

2 December 2003

BERLIN - A group of liberal German women have weighed into the Islamic headscarf issue, calling for it to be accepted if schoolteachers wished to wear one.

Like other European nations, Germany has mainly adopted the secularist stance that religious symbols should be banned from public schools. However its constitutional court has said headscarves can only be banned by explicit legislation, not by official fiat.

Moslem women who want to wear the scarves received backing Monday from various non-Moslem women, who said it was more important to be inclusive of minorities and not push militant Moslem women to the margins.

Marieluise Beck, the German government's commissioner for integration issues, said, "What's on the head is not as important as what's in the head."

She and 70 other women in public life, among them including Maria Jepsen, a Lutheran bishop, signed a statement rejecting legislation to ban scarves from public service.

However the signatories were not directly supportive of scarves, noting that the head coverings, veils and burqas were often a means for male Islamic fundamentalists to oppress women.

The statement was promptly criticized by the Turkish Association of Berlin TBB, which said headscarves were a "fundamentalist weapon". It said civil servants should not wear political and religious symbols. In Turkey, headscarves are forbidden in public life.

In many parts of Europe, headscarves were a normal part of peasant dress until about a century ago. As a fashion item, they were last popular in the 1960s.

DPA
Subject: German news 

 

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