By Sarah Townsend
Commentators have welcomed the ruling as an advance for religious and personal freedom
Female Muslim teachers are permitted to wear headscarves in school, a German court has ruled.
Commentators have welcomed the ruling as an advance for religious and personal freedom, the New York Times reported. It said leaders of Germany’s estimated 3.5 million Muslims noted in particular that Muslim women had previously declined to train as teachers for fear they would not be able to wear the headscarf in school.
German anti-Islam sentiment reached fever pitch earlier this month, when the first protest run by the German organisation Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) was held in the UK.
The march attracted nearly 400 people, according to Reuters.
The news agency said PEGIDA has garnered a significant following in Germany, which it claims is being overrun by Muslims – although there is also a large anti-PEGIDA following which has grown in response, Reuters added.
This week’s court ruling stipulates that teachers may wear the headscarf so long as it does not cause disruption in school.
Nurhan Soykan, general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, was quoted as saying: “Although the ruling does not mean a general permission to wear the head scarf, it is cause for joy.
“It gives worth to Muslim women in Germany and lets them participate in social life as citizens with equal rights.”
And Christian Pestalozza, a constitutional law professor at Berlin’s Free University, reportedly said, “I especially like that the court does not give either a blanket ruling that anything goes, or a blanket ban.”
But some commentators worried the ruling would fan anti-immigrant sentiment and lend new support to Pegida.
The group’s German Facebook page has nearly 160,000 ‘likes’.