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Religious freedom Federal Court rejects school headscarf ban

School authorities appealed a cantonal administrative court decision that gave the green light to wear the headscarves.

(Keystone)

The Swiss Federal Court has rejected a St Gallen cantonal commune’s ban on wearing Muslim headscarves, or hijabs, in school.

Friday’s decision finalises a case that began in 2013, when the school authorities of the commune of St Margrethen objected to 14-year-old Muslim student who wore her hijab to class. The school’s complaint was based on a communal regulation banning the wearing of religious garments.

The cantonal administrative court refuted the school’s protests after the student’s parents refused to allow her to attend school without the hijab.

On Friday, the Federal Court decided four-to-one against the school’s appeal of the cantonal administrative court’s decision. The higher court argued that the ban against wearing a hijab was not a prerequisite for effective teaching. 

"Wearing a headscarf makes one neither rude nor undisciplined," said Federal Judge Florence Aubry Girardin.

The St Margrethen school case is not the only instance of objections being lodged against the wearing of Muslim headgear in Switzerland. Canton Ticino voted for a ban on clothing that covers the face in 2013, a vote that was endorsed by the cantonal parliament this month.

There have also been attempts (some ongoing) to bring in so-called burka bans in cantons Aargau, Zurich and Valais. In addition, a group of rightwing politicians are currently trying to bring about a nationwide headgear ban in Switzerland.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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