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German Court To Muslim Student: Praying At School Disturbs The Peace

The Federal Administrative Court in Germany has ruled against an 18-year-old Muslim student involved in a drawn-out legal quest for permission to pray openly at school. The decision, however, does not rule out all prayer at school, which pleased activists

For at least one Muslim in Germany,
For at least one Muslim in Germany,
Matthias Drobinski

MUNICH -- Yunus M., an 18-year-old Muslim high school student at Diesterweg Gymnasium in Berlin, Germany, has failed in his fight for the right to pray in the public corridors at school. The latest decision concerns this individual case only, judges at the Federal Administrative Court emphasized. But should the plaintiff, who is near graduation, opt to pursue the matter, the only further legal recourse open to him is the Federal Constitutional Court.

The question that the case raises, however, remains: should Muslim students be able to pray openly at school?

Four years ago, Yunus M. and seven friends gathered in the school corridor to bow in the direction of Mecca. The school's director forbid them to do it again, and the case went through a local court, then a court of appeal, before being heard at the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

According to chief justice Werner Neumann, students have a fundamental right to pray at school. He said, however, that religious freedom has its limits if it threatens to cause social friction within the school, as was the case here. The court agreed with the position of the school, whose director stated that there had been repeated religious conflicts at the school, and that at an establishment where 90% of the students were not German it was impossible for them all to claim a right to pray there publically. In addition, the director stated, Yunus M. had been offered a space where he could pray privately.

A case-by-case issue?

The case had previously resulted in contradictory court decisions. In September 2009, the Berlin Administrative Court decided in favor of Yunus M., a ruling which the Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned six months later.

The Berlin Administrative court called in jurist Matthias Rohe, an expert on Islam, who said that the Muslim boy's stance was a "plausible opinion in the spectrum of religious freedom" and that Yunus M. was not an extremist. The Appeals Tribunal called in a colleague of Rohe's, Tilman Nagel, who stated that even the prophet Mohammed had put off praying to make community life simpler.

Yunus M."s case underscores a basic tension: Do state institutions have to accept strict, conservative, even fundamentalist practices when other interpretations are possible?

The Leipzig court avoided this debate by stressing the individual nature of its decision. For this the court earned praise from some Christian churches. Spokespersons for the Berlin-Brandenburg Evangelical Church and the Archdiocese of Berlin said the court's decision aligned with the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Yunus M."s lawyer said they were waiting for the written decision before deciding whether or not to go to the Supreme Court, a move he described, nevertheless, as unlikely.

Read the original article in German

Photo - paul nine-o

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Black Sea Survivor: Tale Of A Ukrainian Special Agent Thrown Overboard In Enemy Waters

This is a tale of a Ukrainian special forces operator who wound up surviving 14 hours at sea, staying afloat and dodging Russian air and sea patrols.

Black Sea Survivor: Tale Of A Ukrainian Special Agent Thrown Overboard In Enemy Waters

Looking at the Black Sea in Odessa, Ukraine.

Rustem Khalilov and Roksana Kasumova

KYIV — During a covert operation in the Black Sea, a Ukrainian special agent was thrown overboard and spent the next 14 hours alone at sea, surrounded by enemy forces.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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The agent, who uses the call-sign "Conan," agreed to speak to Ukrainska Pravda, to share the details of nearly being lost forever at sea. He also shared some background on how he arrived in the Ukrainian special forces. Having grown up in a village in a rural territory of Ukraine, Conan describes himself as "a simple guy."

He'd worked in law enforcement, personal security and had a job as a fitness trainer when Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. That's when he signed up with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Main Directorate of Intelligence "Artan" battalion. It was nearly 18 months into his service, when Conan faced the most harrowing experience of the war. Here's his first-hand account:

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