German state plans hijab ban

Germany's most populous state is planning to ban female Muslim teachers from wearing headscarves in schools from next summer, reports a German newspaper.

    The ban is expected to come into effect from August 2006

    Officials in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told Wednesday's edition of the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung that the ban was not targeting religious beliefs and stressed the decision would be discussed sensitively with Muslim groups.
      
    "Female and male teachers are not allowed to express any world views or any religious beliefs, which could disturb or endanger the peace at school," North Rhine-Westphalia schools minister Barbara Sommer said.
       
    "That's why we want to forbid [female] Muslim teachers at state schools from wearing headscarves."

    Sommer is a member of the Christian Democrats, who ousted Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats from North Rhine-Westphalia in state elections in May.

    The state is home to around 18 million of Germany's population of some 82.5 million.
       
    The ban should take effect from August 2006, the paper said.
       
    Germany is home to some three million Muslims, most of them Turks. Baden-Wuerttemberg, the country's third most populous state, already bans teachers from wearing headscarves in school.
       
    Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel, who opposes Turkey's full membership in the European Union, is widely expected to replace Schroeder as chancellor in next month's general election.
       
    France, where Muslims make up 8% of the population, ordered a ban on the wearing of headscarves at school in March 2004 to stem what it said was the rising influence of radical Islamists among youths.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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