SHARE
COPY LINK

ISLAM

Germany upholds headscarf ban for trainee Muslim lawyers

Germany's highest court on Thursday upheld a ban on headscarves for Muslim trainee lawyers in courts, finding that the requirement of maintaining religious neutrality was justified.

Germany upholds headscarf ban for trainee Muslim lawyers
Young women, wearing different islamic coloured headscarves, attend as spectators a session of the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. Illustration Photo: AFP

The Federal Constitutional Court's ruling came after a Frankfurt-born German-Moroccan legal trainee filed a challenge to Hesse state's rules.

In the western state, trainees who keep their headscarves on are not allowed to take on tasks in which they may be seen to be acting as representatives of the judiciary or the state.

This means for instance that headscarf-wearing trainees are not allowed to sit on the judges' bench as they observe proceedings like other trainees, but would need to follow the process from the floor.

Likewise, they are not allowed to take evidence or lead hearings.

Thursday's ruling was expected to impact a wider debate on the issue in Germany, where around 4.5 million Muslims live and where rules on use of the hijab headwear differ between the 16 federal states.

German national law bans all civil servants from covering their faces, including with Muslim niqabs and burkas — except for health and safety reasons, such as fire-fighters wearing breathing masks.

But there is no nationwide ban on civil servants wearing the hijab and many states weigh the trade-off between freedom of religion and civil servants' neutrality rules on a case-by-case basis.

A Berlin labour court in 2018 barred a teacher who wore the headscarf from teaching primary school classes, but found the she could continue teaching older vocational students in a public secondary school in the German capital.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ISLAM

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday

The mayor of Cologne has announced a two-year pilot project that will allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer on the Muslim day of rest each week.

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday
The DITIP mosque in Cologne. Photo: dpa | Henning Kaiser

Mosques in the city of the banks of the Rhine will be allowed to call worshippers to prayer on Fridays for five minutes between midday and 3pm.

“Many residents of Cologne are Muslims. In my view it is a mark of respect to allow the muezzin’s call,” city mayor Henriette Reker wrote on Twitter.

In Muslim-majority countries, a muezzin calls worshippers to prayer five times a day to remind people that one of the daily prayers is about to take place.

Traditionally the muezzins would call out from the minaret of the mosque but these days the call is generally broadcast over loudspeakers.

Cologne’s pilot project would permit such broadcasts to coincide with the main weekly prayer, which takes place on a Friday afternoon.

Reker pointed out that Christian calls to prayer were already a central feature of a city famous for its medieval cathedral.

“Whoever arrives at Cologne central station is welcomed by the cathedral and the sound of its church bells,” she said.

Reker said that the call of a muezzin filling the skies alongside church bells “shows that diversity is both appreciated and enacted in Cologne”.

Mosques that are interested in taking part will have to conform to guidelines on sound volume that are set depending on where the building is situated. Local residents will also be informed beforehand.

The pilot project has come in for criticism from some quarters.

Bild journalist Daniel Kremer said that several of the mosques in Cologne were financed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “a man who opposes the liberal values of our democracy”, he said.

Kremer added that “it’s wrong to equate church bells with the call to prayer. The bells are a signal without words that also helps tell the time. But the muezzin calls out ‘Allah is great!’ and ‘I testify that there is no God but Allah.’ That is a big difference.”

Cologne is not the first city in North Rhine-Westphalia to allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer.

In a region with a large Turkish immigrant community, mosques in Gelsenkirchen and Düren have been broadcasting the religious call since as long ago as the 1990s.

SEE ALSO: Imams ‘made in Germany’: country’s first Islamic training college opens its doors

SHOW COMMENTS