İrem UZUN -TDO- Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled that a law banning girls aged up to 10 from wearing headscarves in schools was discriminatory, overturning the measure introduced by the ruling conservatives while allied with the far right. The decision comes after two children and their parents appealed against the law, arguing that the ban only applied to scarves that cover the entire head, but not to smaller religious head coverings worn by observant Jewish or Sikh male students. The family said the ban is therefore a disproportionate infringement on religious freedom, the religious upbringing of children, and a violation of the principle of equality.
In a statement released following the decision, the court said that equality and "freedom of thought, conscience and religion, establishes the state's religious and ideological neutrality." The court said the legislature was required to treat various religious convictions equally. The law did not apply to the Jewish Kippa or to the turban worn by Sikh men. "The school is based, among other things, on the basic values of openness and tolerance," the constitutional court said.
The decision by the constitutional court on Friday was "shows that our trust in the rule of law and our patience have paid off," said Austria's Islamic Faith organization (IGGÖ) in a statement posted to Facebook. "The enforcement of equal opportunities and self-determination for girls and women in our society is not achieved through prohibitions, but rather by strengthening human, women's and children's rights and promoting the awareness that coercion is never permissible," it added.