‘Deliberate stigmatization’: Austria’s high court docket overturns scarf ban in major colleges


Austria’s Constitutional Court docket has lifted a ban on carrying headscarves in major colleges that was in drive since 2019, arguing that it targets Islam and hinders integration of Muslim ladies.

The court docket declared the ban unconstitutional in a Friday ruling, saying it violates Austria’s rules of spiritual and ideological neutrality. “The college is predicated, amongst different issues, on the essential values of openness and tolerance,” the court docket’s president, Christoph Grabenwarter, mentioned, including that, by specializing in a selected faith, the laws infringes upon this precept of equality.

The regulation… marginalizes Islamic origin and custom as such.

Handed in Might 2019, the regulation doesn’t explicitly point out Muslim head coverings. As an alternative, it prohibits major faculty kids from carrying “ideologically or religiously influenced clothes, which entails protecting of the top,” whereas making particular exemptions for the Jewish kippah and the patka headdress worn by Sikhs.

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The laws, supported by the Conservative Folks’s Celebration (OVP) and the right-wing Freedom Celebration (FPO), which at the moment retained a majority within the parliament, was met with skepticism as its opponents known as it “populist” whereas folks ridiculed it on social media.

Austria’s Islamic Religion Group (IGGO) mentioned the regulation violated spiritual freedom in addition to mother and father’ proper to coach their kids of their religion. The IGGO then filed a proper criticism with the court docket in January this yr.

The federal government argued that the ban is aimed toward defending Muslim ladies from “social strain” with regards to carrying spiritual clothes. The court docket, nonetheless, dismissed such reasoning as inadequate, and mentioned that the legislature’s actual impact is detrimental to the nation’s integration efforts, which is the other to what its authors supposedly sought to attain.

“The ban on the Islamic scarf, which selectively covers a selected spiritual or ideological clothes, intentionally stigmatizes a sure group of individuals,” the court docket dominated. “It carries the chance of constructing it harder for Muslim ladies to entry schooling or marginalizing them socially.”

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The judges additionally rejected the argument that carrying headscarves in colleges might result in spiritual conflicts, including that the ban utilized to women that “don’t disturb the peace at college” anyway.

Following the court docket’s choice, the IGGO mentioned that “our belief within the rule of regulation and our endurance have paid off.” The information was additionally welcomed by most of Austria’s opposition events. The Social Democrats known as on the federal government to “respect” the ruling in addition to to develop an integration idea that “not sees integration as a populist plaything however as a socio-political job.”

The federal government, which continues to be led by OVP’s Sebastian Kurz, mentioned it will “after all” settle for the ruling. Nonetheless, Susanne Raab, the minister for ladies and integration, famous that she finds it “regrettable” that younger ladies must put on headscarves at school any longer. The OVP’s former coalition companions from FPO denounced the choice as a “unhappy day for kids’s rights.”

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