Berlin court rules in favour of Muslim prayer in school

Berlin court rules in favour of Muslim prayer in school
The Diesterweg Gymnasium. Photo: DPA
Berlin school officials and parents are disappointed after an administrative court granted a Muslim high school student the right to pray in between lessons, daily Berliner Morgenpost reported on Wednesday.

The court on Tuesday ruled in favour of 16-year-old Yunus M., who attends the city’s Diesterweg Gymnasium. During a four-hour hearing, Judge Uwe Wegener said he was aware that the case was quite significant and could set a precedent.

Lawyer Margarete Mühl-Jäckel, who argued on Berlin’s behalf, insisted that allowing prayer in schools would compromise the religious neutrality of the state institutions. But the court found that the basic right to religious freedom was in conflict with Article 7 of the constitution, which requires school neutrality.

Wolfgang Harnischfeger, head of the VBS association of Berlin school leaders called the ruling “a naïve decision that misses reality in schools,” the paper reported.

Meanwhile the state parents committee said it feared the ruling would mean further reduction of a willingness to integrate among Muslim students. Head of the committee, André Schindler, told Berliner Zeitung he feared it would divide students and said the group was considering an appeal.

Berlin city government school administrators also said they would review an appeal.

“We feel we’ve been left alone on the question of space considerations,” spokesperson Jens Stiller told the paper.

He explained that because prayer has a demonstrative character, schools must make extra rooms available and criticised that the court ruling did not address that issue.

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