The Constitutional Court of Austria has held that headscarf ban in elementary schools is unconstitutional.
The Court held that the regulation violates the principle of equality in connection with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
The School Education Act prohibited pupil from wearing ideologically or religious clothing that involves covering their heads until the end of the school year in which they reach the age of 10. . A couple of children and their parents challenged these regulations on the ground that they are discriminatory.
In its judgment, the court noted that the selective ban applies exclusively to Muslims School girls and thereby delimits them from others in a discriminatory way. The court also said that this selective prohibition will have a detrimental effect on the inclusion of affected schoolgirls and lead to discrimination because it poses a risk to Muslim girls make access to education more difficult or socially marginalized.
"The legislature picks out a specific form of clothing with religious or ideological connotations, which is in one way or another comparable with other, but not forbidden, religious or ideological clothing habits. A regulation that selectively picks out a certain religious or ideological conviction by deliberately privileging or disadvantaging such convictions requires a special objective justification with regard to the requirement of religious and ideological neutrality.", the court said adding that the regulation affects those pupils who do not disturb the school peace themselves.
The court further observed that the wearing of the Islamic headscarf is a practice that is applied for various reasons. "The possible interpretations , the wearers of headscarves in the light of their specific religion or belief of clothing and thus give the wearing of the headscarf, are manifold. By wearing a headscarf, you can simply express your affiliation with Islam or the alignment of your own life with the religious values of Islam. Furthermore, wearing the headscarf can also be interpreted as a sign of belonging to the Islamic culture or of adherence to the traditions of the society of origin. The Islamic headscarf therefore has no clear and unambiguous meaning.", it added.