Court orders Islamic veil ban softened

The Constitutional Court has ordered the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to review a ban on Islamic veils in its schools. The judges decided that veils do not pose a concrete threat to a school's learning environment.

Court orders Islamic veil ban softened
Photo: DPA

The judges in Karlsruhe argued that a blanket ban on teachers wearing veils in school is not compatible with religious freedom, left-wing daily TAZ reports.

The newspaper saw a copy of the ruling on Thursday, although it is not due to be made public until later on Friday.

The ruling came in the case of two Muslim teachers who went to the court because they wanted to cover their heads for religious reasons. One wore a traditional veil, the other a type of hat.

But state officials said they were violating state law by wearing the headgear.

Teachers displaying “expressions of religiosity” which are seen to jeopardize the neutrality of the state and the peacefulness of schools, are banned in the westerly state's school system.

The Constitutional Court has now decided that this ban is “constitutionally limiting.”

In the future an abstract danger to state neutrality and peace at schools will not be sufficient. “An ample concrete danger” must exist.

TAZ reports that the ruling does no that mean that Islamic veils are now to be allowed under all circumstances.

If conservative parents were to organise protests against a teacher wearing such a veil, this could constitute a threat to school peace, which would be grounds for banning the veil.


Austria court rules assisted suicide must be legalised

Austria's constitutional court ruled on Friday that the country was violating fundamental rights in ruling assisted suicide illegal and ordered the government to lift the ban in 2021.

Austria court rules assisted suicide must be legalised
Austria's Constitutional Court in Vienna. Photo: Haeferl/Wikimedia Commons
Several individuals — including two terminally ill people and a doctor — had brought the case before the court, demanding a ruling in the staunchly Catholic EU state.
“The decision consciously to take one's own life must be respected by the legislator,” court president Christoph Grabenwarter told reporters, while stressing the choice had to be made “freely, without any outside influence”.
Currently, assisted dying is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Austria's ruling conservative-green coalition government  had called for existing legislation banning assisted suicide to be maintained, citing “potential abuses” if it were legalised.
Protagonists of legalisation say a ban encroaches on religious freedom to the extent it is based on Christian ethical considerations.
Elsewhere in Europe, euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands and Belgium but traditionally Catholic states such as Ireland and Poland are holding out against liberalisation.