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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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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