Austrian Constitutional Court rejects ban on Muslim headscarves in schools

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The ban on wearing headscarves, which has been in force in Austrian primary schools since last year, is unconstitutional, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled, according to APA. The court thus upheld the complaints of children and parents who claimed that the ban was discriminatory because it applied to the headgear of Muslim girls but not to the Jewish kip (yarmulke) or turban for Sikhs.
The judges concluded that the law was directed against a particular religion — Islam ‚— and thus violated the neutral view concerning religion that the state must maintain.
The ban was approved last year by members of both parties of the then governing coalition, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) of the current Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and the Free Party of Austria (FPÖ). Although the law does not specifically mention that the ban applies to Islamic headgear such as the hijab or shayla, it is implicit in its wording.
It is forbidden to “wear religious clothing with which the covering of the head is connected”. It is the type of clothing that “covers all or a large part of the hair”. Thanks to this definition, the measure does not apply to yarmulkes, for example.
Title image: In this Sunday June 28, 2009 file photo, women gather during a demonstration to protest against a recent regulation in a local secondary school which will prohibit religious and political symbols in Antwerp, Belgium. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

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