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Austrian court strikes down ban on Muslim headscarves in schools

A ban on headscarves for elementary school students was discriminatory and unconstitutional because it singled out Muslim girls’ headscarves, the Austrian Constitutional Court has ruled.

The court said the law banning headscarves for girls under 10 years old “contravened the principle of equality in relation to freedom of religion, belief and conscience.”

Drafters tried to keep the text of the law neutral, banning “ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head.”

Judge Christoph Grabenwarter, however, said additional material from the government made it clear that the law could only be understood as targeting Muslim head coverings. The law violated the principle of equality and the state’s obligation to be religiously neutral because it singled out Muslim students.

Grabenwarter voiced concern of the ban’s effects on students.

“It carries the risk of hindering Muslim girls’ access to education and more precisely of shutting them off from society,” Grabenwarter said, according to the German news site Deutsche Welle.

Austria’s coalition government of the center-right People’s Party and the far-right Freedom Party passed the measure in 2019, just days before the government collapsed amid a corruption scandal.

Backers depicted the proposal as a “child protection law,” claiming it protected girls and women against sexism and politicized Islam. They also said it would protect the nation’s culture from Islamic influences and the infiltration of parallel societies.

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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