German Court Bans Muslim Prayers in Schools
Germany's top administrative court has ruled that a Muslim student is not entitled to perform prayers at his school because the act has the potential to create "very severe conflicts."
Germany's Federal Administrative Court found that although the right to pray at school is guaranteed by religious freedom under the constitution (Grundgesetz), students lose that right if a conflict is created in the process.
The court also ruled that schools are not obligated to accommodate Muslims by providing them with separate prayer rooms.
The ruling in the landmark case has both legal and political consequences. Not only do schools across Germany now have a legal basis for banning Muslim prayers, but the widely-watched case also feeds into the larger debate about the role of Islam in Germany.
The case dates back to 2007, when a 14-year-old Muslim student and some of his peers at a high school in Berlin began a prayer session in the school corridor during a break from class.
The following day the principal informed the boy and his parents that praying was not permitted on the grounds of the school, which has students from 30 different countries and nearly all major religions. The principal said she feared for the peaceful running of the school.
The student had argued that because prayer times depend on the rising and setting of the sun, he had no other choice during the winter but to pray around midday while at school. He then filed a lawsuit in an effort to force his school into allowing him to pray at school. It became the first such case in German courts.
In September 2009, the highest court in the region, Berlin-Brandenburg, ruled that the student did have the right to pray on school grounds during his break from class. His high school subsequently granted him a special room for midday prayer, one of the five required daily prayers in Islam.
But the state of Berlin appealed the ruling out of concern that daily prayer would disturb the high school's routine and jeopardize its religious neutrality.
Now the federal court in Leipzig has overturned the original confirmation of the student's religious rights.
Capping a four-year legal battle, the Leipzig-based court ruled: "The court has decided that performing the prayer rite in the school corridor could exacerbate a threat which already exists to the peace of the school community. By 'peace of the school community' we mean an environment which is free of conflict and which allows lessons to take place in an orderly manner."
The court also said the student "is not entitled to perform prayer during school outside of class when this can disrupt the running of the school." It added that the "school was not able to organize a separate room for prayer."
The judges noted that conflict had broken out among Muslim students themselves after accusations that the student's prayer ritual was not in accordance with a particular teaching of the Islamic Koran.
The court stressed that the ruling did not mean that no student could pray at school. The decision should be made on a case by case basis.
Tilman Nagel, an expert in Islam who appeared as a witness at an earlier court hearing, said there is a big difference between how Muslims and Christians pray. He argued that the Islamic ritual of praying undertaken with sometimes very large groups of other people is very different from the Christian private act of praying, and was thus disruptive in a public space.
Ralph Ghadban, a Berlin-based expert on Islam, said Muslim groups are attempting to leverage German laws that guarantee religious freedom in an effort to Islamicize German schools. He argued that according to German law, the state has a duty to remain neutral but that Muslims were compromising that law by making the state show special favors for Islam.
Aiman Mazyek, the head of Germany's Central Council of Muslims, said: "In the past, schools have been more pragmatic and laid-back about the issue, but now that has been pushed back. Now, we have reached the final legal stage and that is why it has now turned into a political debate."
The court case has indeed become part of the larger debate over the question of Muslim immigration and the establishment of a parallel Islamic society in Germany, which is home to an estimated 4.3 million Muslims.
In November 2011, the German Federal Ministry of the Family released a 160-page report, "Forced Marriages in Germany: Numbers and Analysis of Counseling Cases," which revealed that thousands of young women and girls in Germany are victims of forced marriages every year. Most of the victims come from Muslim families; many have been threatened with violence and even death.
In September 2011, a new book "Judges Without Law: Islamic Parallel Justice Endangers Our Constitutional State," revealed that Islamic Sharia courts are now operating in all of Germany's big cities. The book argues that this "parallel justice system" is undermining the rule of law in Germany because Muslim arbiters -- imams [religious rulers] -- are settling criminal cases out of court, without the involvement of German prosecutors or lawyers, before law enforcement can bring the cases to a German court.
That same month, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich revealed that Germany is home to some 1,000 Islamic radicals who are potential terrorists. He said many of these home-grown Islamists are socially alienated Muslim youths who are being inflamed by German-language Islamist propaganda that promotes hatred of the West. In some instances, the extremists are being encouraged to join sleeper cells and to one day "awaken" and commit terrorist attacks in Germany and elsewhere.
In December 2010, an opinion survey, "Perception and Acceptance of Religious Diversity," conducted by the sociology department of the University of Münster, in partnership with the prestigious TNS Emnid political polling firm, showed that fewer than 5% of Germans believe Islam is a peaceful religion and that more than 40% of Germans believe that the practice of Islam should be vigorously restricted. Significantly, more than 80% of Germans agree with the statement: "Muslims must adapt to our culture."
In September 2010, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a think tank linked to the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), published a survey which found that many Germans believe their country is being "overrun" by Muslim immigrants. It also found that these views are not isolated at the extremes of German society, but are to a large degree "at the center of it."
In August 2010, a book titled "Germany Does Away With Itself" analyzed the social changes that are transforming Germany thanks to the presence of millions of non-integrated Muslims in the country.
In July 2010, the late German magistrate Kirsten Heisig, in her book, "The End of Patience," warned: "The law is slipping out of our hands. It's moving to the streets or into a parallel system where an imam or another representative of the Koran determines what must be done."
In May 2009, Germany's Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), the domestic intelligence agency, reported that there are an estimated 29 Islamist groups in Germany with 34,720 members or supporters who pose a major threat to homeland security. Many of them want to establish a "Koran-state" in Germany: they believe Islamic Sharia law is a divine ordinance that is to replace all other legal systems.
Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.
Reader comments on this item
|This form of persecution is indirectly favourable to Islam [125 words]||Ggayi Abu-Baker||Jan 4, 2012 05:43|
|Head warning [56 words]||Joan Whiteley||Dec 17, 2011 14:11|
|German ban on Muslim prayer in schools [14 words]||Rev. Stan and Mrs. Katherine Fishley||Dec 16, 2011 19:19|
|A little too late [136 words]||Valhalla||Dec 15, 2011 05:58|
Comment on this item
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Timon Dias
"Arab leaders are a reflection of their people. Arab leaders don't come from Mars or the sun, they emerged from among the people and share the same beliefs... I challenge any Arab citizen who may become a ruler to do anything beyond what current Arab leaders are doing." — Anwar Malek, Algerian author.
If anyone was trying to commit "genocide" during the Gaza War, it was clearly Hamas.
What the protestors in the Netherlands also revealed is that a killed Palestinian is only worth demonstrating for when the blame can be pinned on Israel.
The normalization and common approval of slogans that actually call for the destruction of the entire Jewish State, Israel, contribute to an atmosphere of hatred, violence and anti-Semitism that now seems as acceptable as it is overt.
by Anne Bayefsky
Why couldn't the UN... sponsor a conference on combating global antisemitism?
In theory the UN Charter demands equality of... nations large and small. In reality the UN mass-produces inequality for Jews and the Jewish nation.
The UN has launched a "legal" pogrom against the Jewish state. A "legal" pogrom is a license to kill.
Modern antisemitism targets Israel's exercise of the right of self-defense because self-defense is the essence of sovereignty.
by Vijeta Uniyal
In Europe, displays of ferocity were clearly not a "spontaneous reaction" to the developing situation in Gaza. They were an opportune moment for many to act on their anti-Semitism by dressing it up as a supposedly "genuine concern" for human suffering.
In India, youth groups rallied to show their support for Israel, a fellow democracy under terrorist siege -- a pain known only too well by Indians, who have lost more than 30,000 of their countrymen to terrorism since 1994.
A majority if Indians, whose culture is not tainted by anti-Semitism, can see that Israel not only has the right to defend itself, but an obligation to protect its citizens from terrorism.
The media elites of Europe seem unable to see the threat posed to the West by radical Islamist ideology, which drives countless terrorist outfits, including IS, Hamas and al-Qaida. They also seem unable to distinguish their friends from their foes.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Many Arabs and Muslims identify with the terrorists' anti-Western objectives ideology; they are afraid of being dubbed traitors and U.S. agents for joining non-Muslims in a war that would result in the death of many Muslims, and they are afraid their people would rise up against them.
Many Arab and Muslim leaders view the Islamic State as a by-product of failed U.S. policies, especially the current U.S. Administration's weak-kneed support for Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki. Some of these leaders, such as Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, consider the U.S. to be a major ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi and his regime will never forgive Obama for his support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Also, they do not seem to have much confidence in the Obama Administration, which is perceived as weak and incompetent when it comes to combating Islamists.