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Break of religious neutrality: Plan for headscarves for Muslim teachers meets with rejection

BERLIN. The plans of Berlin's Justice Senator Dirk Behrend (Greens) to allow religious clothing such as headscarves in schools by amending the Neutrality Act were met with rejection. "The school must remain a neutral place where normal democratic values ​​are conveyed," said the deputy chairwoman of the Berlin School Principals Interest Group (IBS), Karina Jehniche, to the Tagesspiegel.

The head of a Berlin school feared that in the future Muslim pupils could demand to be taught only by teachers with headscarves. Many of these young people have already emphasized that they only married a woman who wears a headscarf because she has certain moral values. In addition, the planned change could lead to "no longer about pedagogical skills, but about acceptance based on external symbols".

With a view to the possible consequences for future attitudes, Jehniche said that so far, as the headmistress, she has been hiring the educators she would like on her own. “I make pedagogical decisions and see if someone fits into the team. But if the headscarf is allowed to be worn now: Do I then have to hire someone with a headscarf according to the quota even though I am not convinced of their pedagogical skills?

Party friends criticize Behrendt
Against the background of the murder of the French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist, the chairman of the Berlin Association of German History Teachers, Peter Stolz, raised the question of loyalty to the constitution. How does a headscarf-wearing teacher who teaches an almost Muslim class behave when it comes to the question of how to judge the murder of Paty, who was killed because of Mohammed cartoons. "Is she arguing on the basis of the Basic Law?"

The advance of the Justice Senator also caused criticism within the party. The state working group "Secular Greens" accused Behrends of wanting to go down in Berlin history as the one who destroyed the neutrality law. The representative of the group Walter Otte suspected an attempt by his party friend to want to distinguish himself in the upcoming election campaign for the Berlin House of Representatives.

Erfurt labor court overturns headscarf ban
The Berlin SPD, which governs the capital together with the Greens and the Left Party, held back with statements. However, the district mayor of Neukölln, Martin Hikel (SPD), insisted on the importance of neutrality for a non-discriminatory society without religious influence. "This pluralistic society needs a neutral state in order to give space for diversity."

The reason for Behrendts' request for an amendment to the law is a decision by the Federal Labor Court in Erfurt. Last August it ruled that the state of Berlin should not generally prohibit a Muslim applicant for a teaching position from wearing a headscarf.

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