German Court BANS The Niqab For Muslim Women

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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An administrative court in Germany has barred Muslim women from wearing niqabs in public schools, as members of the center-right Christian Democratic Union party urge a full ban of the ultra-conservative Islamic garb in government buildings and while driving.

The case was occasioned after an 18-year-old female student was accepted for the evening program at the Sophie Scholl School in Lower Saxony. The acceptance was rescinded when the school learned the student insisted on wearing a niqab to class. A niqab is a veil that covers the entirety of one’s face, with the exception of a narrow slit for their eyes. It is worn in public places and in the presence of men to whom the wearer is not a relation.

A judge in the city Osnabrueck issued the ban after the student failed to present herself at a hearing Monday, leaving the court no choice but to find against her. Early reports indicate the student did not attend the session because of the intense media scrutiny surrounding the case.

The school objected to her religious practice for two reasons: They feared inability to identify her could lead to academic integrity issues — an individual could sit for an exam dressed as her, for example; and because cohesion and interaction were best achieved if her face was visible.

“To facilitate that kind of communication, it is essential that the students’ faces are visible,” a statement from the Lower Saxony education authority said. (RELATED: Media Darling, Hijab-Wearing US Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad Is Anti-Israel)

Initially, she had sought an accommodation from the school, offering to reveal her face to a female staff member before each class. The school rejected the proposal.

The move comes as the center-right majority party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed banning burqas and niqabs in government buildings, schools, and while driving.

“We all reject the full veil — not only the burka but also other types of full veil that only leave the eyes visible,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said late last week. “They have no place in our society,” adding they are not conducive to the cosmopolitanism Germans cherish.

Merkel has echoed those reservations about niqabs, burqas, and other forms of orthodox Muslim dress.

“In my view, a fully veiled woman has almost no chance of integrating successfully in German society,” she said in an interview with German press before Maiziere’s announcement.

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