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    Muslim Teacher Wins $8,000 Compensation From Berlin Court in Headscarf Case

    © AFP 2019 / ABBAS MOMANI
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    A female Muslim teacher has been awarded almost €7,000 ($7,952) after a court ruled she was unfairly discriminated against in her search for work.

    A female Muslim teacher has been awarded compensation from the state of Berlin after her application for a teaching position was rejected because of her religious headscarf.

    She was one of two teachers in headscarves who were interviewed for a job teaching Mathematics and IT at a secondary school in Berlin in January. Both were told during their first interview that they would not be allowed to wear the headscarves at the school. 

    At an employment tribunal hearing on Monday, the Berlin authorities agreed to pay one of the women €6,915 ($7,853). The second Muslim teacher is still in the process of bringing legal action, her lawyer Maryam Haschemi Yekani said.

    The school authorities said their decision was based on Berlin's neutrality law, which was passed in 2005 and forbids teachers, police officers and employees of the justice system from wearing religious symbols. 

    However, the judge ruled that the ban discriminated against the teacher, according to Paragraph 7 of Germany's General Equal Treatment Act.

    The case is one of several in which teachers have sued Berlin for banning headscarves. In a February court ruling, a plaintiff was awarded €8,680 ($9,857) in compensation after she was rejected as a candidate for a teaching job. 

    In that case, the judge said that Berlin's neutrality law should be interpreted so as to conform with the German constitution. In January 2015, Germany's Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a blanket ban on religious symbols in schools is unconstitutional, unless there is a specific risk to a school or district.

    Christian teachers in Berlin have also complained about being prevented from wearing cross or fish symbols to work, and Berlin's Senate Education Administration has pledged to come up with guidelines on the issue by the middle of the next month.


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