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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK
Headscarf issue in highest court
Turkish woman reads Koran in a mosque
Wearing a headscarf - a political issue in many countries
A Muslim teacher who was refused a job in a German state school because she wore a headscarf has taken her case to the country's highest court.

Fereshta Ludin, 31, a naturalised German of Afghan origin, says she is simply expressing her right to religious freedom.

But the Government of Baden-Wuerttemberg in southern Germany, which refused her employment, said the headscarf violates children's right to a religiously neutral education.

This is Ms Ludin's last chance of appeal in Germany, and her case will be closely watched as she is not the only Muslim woman to be refused employment in German schools for wearing a headscarf.

Ms Ludin was refused a job in 1998 - despite successfully completing an internship at a high school near Stuttgart.

The state Education Minister, Annette Schaven, argued that the headscarf was political and "understood as a symbol of the exclusion of woman from civil and cultural society".

Ms Ludin - who now works at a private Islamic school in Berlin - said the state was equating the headscarf with "things I already distanced myself from during my own school years".

She argued that the constitution guarantees her freedom of religious expression and unlimited access to public jobs.

Precedents

But a federal court last year upheld the state's argument that it violated "the strict neutrality of public schools in religious issues".

The case involves a clash of two key German legal concepts, religious freedom for all and the right of children to have a religiously neutral education, says the BBC's Ray Furlong.

Ms Ludin's supporters point to a federal labour court decision last October ruling that a Turkish woman had been unlawfully sacked by a department store for wearing a headscarf.

But her opponents can also point to a precedent, another federal court ruling in 1999 that a school in Bavaria had to remove a crucifix from a classroom wall.

The presiding judge at the constitutional court in Karlsruhe said the court would have to decide if the headscarf was just an article of clothing, a religious symbol or a refusal to integrate.

A decision is expected in July.


SEE ALSO:
Headscarf row erupts in France
25 Apr 03  |  Europe
Turkish headscarf ban questioned
07 Nov 02  |  Europe
Singapore headscarf ban faces lawsuit
22 Apr 02  |  Asia-Pacific


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