German state of Baden-Württemberg to ban niqabs and burkas in schools
A state in southwestern Germany has revealed it is planning to ban girls from wearing burkas and niqabs in school.
Authorities in Baden-Württemberg say they have begun procedures to introduce a legal regulation for the ban, which they say will promote a sense of "togetherness" in education.
In a statement, the speaker of the state's education ministry confirmed to Dailyrater that it was "in the process of creating a legal regulation" and that the council of ministers had agreed to amending the School Act.
The speaker added that next steps would include a legal hearing and parliamentary debates before the amendment itself can be tabled in parliament for a reading.
Until now, the statement said the region's culture ministry had followed a 2014 ruling from the Bavarian Administrative Court of Justice that said face veils could be banned for teachers as it served as as "objective obstacle" to the job.
It then cited a case brought by a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Hamburg as a reason to seek legal regulations for the ban to apply to pupils, too.
"Even if these are only individual cases throughout Germany, the case in Hamburg has shown the need for a legally watertight regulation to enforce a ban in an emergency," the statement continued.
Baden-Württemberg Culture Minister Dr Susanne Eisenmann also supported the decision, saying a burka and niqab ban would promote "togetherness" and "open communication" in schools.
She said: "Schools are places of togetherness and encounter. Teaching there is based on open communication, which is expressed in facial expressions.
"Teachers and pupils must be able to look each other in the face in the truest sense of the word.
"A full veil prevents this open communication. That's why I strongly object to niqabs and burkas being worn in our schools."
"With the amendment of the school law, we are acting with foresight and clarity to eliminate legal interpretation. We do not tolerate face coverings in our schools."