• Germany's news in English

School allowed to ban Muslim pupil's praying

The Local · 30 Nov 2011, 17:18

Published: 30 Nov 2011 17:18 GMT+01:00

However, the Leipzig-based federal administrative court found that the right to pray even at school was guaranteed by religious freedom under the constitution.

In the case of the 18-year-old pupil, who took his school to court, it justified the ban at his Berlin high school because the issue of praying had already sparked conflict among Muslim pupils.

The court said the school, in Berlin's ethnically diverse Wedding district, was right in stopping him from praying as "sometimes very severe conflicts" had broken out among Muslim pupils over the interpretation of the Koran.

Capping a more than two-year legal battle, it ruled that a pupil "is not entitled to perform prayer during school outside of class when this can disrupt the running of the school."

The pupil, identified only as Yunus M., is the son of a German Muslim convert. He had insisted on his basic right to religious freedom after the school principal told him praying at school was not permitted.

With an estimated four million Muslims living in Germany, the case sparked interest after two earlier regional court rulings first found in favour of the boy, only then to be overturned.

It began in November 2007 when Yunus M. and several other pupils laid down their jackets in the school corridor to pray during a break from class.

The following day the principal informed the boy and his parents that praying was not permitted on the grounds of the school which has students of about 30 different nationalities and nearly all major religions. She feared for the peaceful running of the school, she said.

Yunus M. had argued that because prayer times depend on the rising and setting of the sun, he had no other choice during the winter but to pray around midday while at school.

News weekly Der Spiegel said that the consequences of Wednesday's ruling

would be closely watched nationwide.

"Yunus M. kicked off proceedings which could write legal history," it said in its online edition.

Tilman Nagel, an expert in Islam who appeared as a witness at an earlier court hearing, said that postponing midday prayers was acceptable if there was a good reason.

Story continues below…

He also argued that the Islamic ritual of praying undertaken with other people was very different to the Christian private act of praying, and was thus disruptive in a public space.

Germany has grappled with the thorny issue of the integration of its Muslim population since it signed a "guest worker" pact with Turkey 50 years ago.

This has sometimes fuelled tensions, with a former central banker publishing a runaway bestseller last year saying Germany was being made "more stupid" by millions of purportedly undereducated and unproductive Muslim migrants.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

19:40 November 30, 2011 by brnskin2010
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:11 November 30, 2011 by Simon_Kellett
Is this a "public school" as in a school open to the general public for free, or "public school" in British sense: i.e a private, fee paying school?
20:23 November 30, 2011 by nolibs
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
22:29 November 30, 2011 by marimay
Haha, nolibs is scared. What a fool.
04:39 December 1, 2011 by ChrisRea
Disruptive? If the school bully does not like the colour, probably wearing purple is also disruptive, isn't it?

@nolibs - Did you take a look at the history between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland? Then I guess you are also scared by those who chose to become Christians (don't worry too much though, there are not so many compared to those who are born into Christianity and have no idea about it).

If in the last sentence you were referring to the original ruling of the court, then I am with you on this one.
04:45 December 1, 2011 by Nemo2010
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
08:53 December 1, 2011 by GregAbdul
First, I would say the story is biased, It cites an "expert" saying that Muslims don't have to pray at a specific time? Now who doesn't know that Muslims are commanded to pray a midday prayer and to miss it is a sin. It's like saying you can murder....if you have a good excuse. Muslims are in every country in the world. A lot of you have a lot of growing up to do. We are not going to go back to anywhere and especially not to please you. You have to live with us, just as we have to live with you. We all need to be adults. The writer of this article is not being an adult because this article is biased and not balanced. The simple solution for all in this case is to simply assign the kids a room to pray in during lunch hour. Then they will be out of sight and still meeting their religious obligation, which actually does encourage them to be as private and out of the way as they can in making their prayers. The problem is them praying in the halls and that only happens because someone for some silly reason is not giving them a private prayer space.
09:23 December 1, 2011 by ChrisRea

Most probably the Muslim in case is already in his homeland, namely Germany. I am glad that you realise that the Western world is still a "boy's club" and women are not treated as equals. And yes, it is sad that followers of main religions (Christian, Muslim etc) kill each other in the name of their beliefs.
09:28 December 1, 2011 by asteriks
Politicians mixed themselves 100%, therefore later ruling by the court was against this boy. School principal should loose job because of racism. And check that principal if he/she grew up in Nazi family.
10:48 December 1, 2011 by DULS
Honestly this couldn¦#39;t get better; education system should be maintained free of any religion reference. Germany is no longer a Christian and it is not Islamic republic as we should move on and start looking at religion as a private issue.

If these kids want to pray, they can do it at home (sorry @GregAbdul) and I don't see a reason why the school have any obligation whatsoever to give them a room. Islam is another religion out there and should be treated as equal as the many others, I don't see Christian, Buddhist, Jews, scientologies and who knows what else, demanding a room or performing their religious ritual on public spaces.
13:07 December 1, 2011 by psykos
well guys its very simple, this praying thing would never bother anyone, infact it never actually bothered, if it was pre 9/11 era. Its just Islamphobia nothing else. And in future if US+NATO gets bored of fighting against same enemy and creates a new one, praying+etc will be again no problem

@DULS So you want to make Germany like Stalin's USSR or China?
13:11 December 1, 2011 by bugger
Public schools are not the place for public prayer. They are schools and not churches.

Try to publicly pray if you are a Christian in a public school in Turkey or in Saudi Arabia LOL
13:27 December 1, 2011 by storymann
bugger you also could add America to your list.
22:16 December 1, 2011 by Redwing
@ Simon_Kellet. As nobody has so far answered your question, let me. Public schools in Germany are just the ordinary non-fee-paying schools. There are very few private (or public as in the UK) schools. I don't know about now, but in my day it was considered a shame having to go to a private school because it meant that you were either so badly behaved that you were chucked out of school or you were a dunce and could not keep up with the school's curriculum.
02:02 December 2, 2011 by Neanderthal75
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
10:39 December 2, 2011 by DULS
@psykos, I would like Germany to become a real secular state, where religion is a private issue, I know that is naive but the court decision was in the right direction.

Some women like to get spank others like to wear a burka, but who are we to decided for them.

everything else, it is part of the same bla bla bla.
02:14 December 3, 2011 by ron1amr
Well spoken Neanderthal 75. I agree with the school as the praying could disrupt the school. If the boy had to do his prayers on a certain time, then he with his parents should have made consultations with the school in advance. Or either he should take leave from school in these times.
21:51 December 3, 2011 by viperella
No one shall obstruct hallways: it's a safety issue. Praying or not, there must be clear access to exits. Simple.
12:04 December 6, 2011 by nolibs
@psykos - really, you think nobody would be bothered by a group of muslims clogging up the hallways, chanting and praying, if not for the muslim terrorist attacks on 9/11 and 7/7? The student(s) could easily bow their heads in the direction of their holy space rock and pray silently. Rather, this is purely an attempt to disrupt the school, with the added effect of making it harder to be Christian as well (Germany IS a Christian country).
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