[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of the German state of Bavaria [official website, in German] Monday upheld [press release, in German] a 2004 state law [BBC report] which bans teachers from wearing religious headscarves [JURIST news archive]. An Islamic religious group had sued the state claiming the law was unconstitutional under the Bavarian state constitution [text] because it eliminated Muslim symbols from the classroom yet still allowed Christian and Jewish images to be displayed. Officials speaking for the state argued the ban was valid because as opposed to the cross and other religious markings, the headscarf is worn only by women and thus its wearing mitigated against gender equality as guaranteed under the constitution.
Headscarves have been the topic of fierce debate in Germany since teacher Fereshta Ludin [Pluralism Project backgrounder] filed suit after being denied a job in Stuttgart in 1998. Ludin argued that the German constitution guaranteed her right to wear the headscarf. A federal German court ruled in September 2003 [BBC report] that under then-current laws, she was correct, but it also noted that individual states could pass laws banning the headwear. Since then, eight German states have implemented such bans, including most recently the state of North-Rhine Westphalia [DW report]. Deutsche Welle has more.
In related news Monday, Egyptian minister of religious endowments minister Hamdy Zaqzuq has said that he has forbidden women working as religious counselors from wearing face veils, because it was custom, not religion-based, to do so. His statements came the same day he had a woman removed from a training session [Demaz report] for wearing the face veil. Zaqzuq said that those who continued to wear the full veil would no longer act as religious counselors and would instead assume administrative positions within the ministry. AFP has more.