European Court Upholds Scarf Ban

June 29, 2004

Source: Reuters UK

On June 29, 2004 Reuters UK reported, "Banning Muslim headscarves in state schools does not violate the freedom of religion and is a valid way to counter Islamic fundamentalism, the European Court of Human Rights says. In what could be a precedent-setting decision, the Strasbourg-based court rejected appeals by a Turkish student who was barred from attending Istanbul University medical school because her headscarf violated the official dress code. The court decision, which takes precedence over national court rulings, could help the French government face court cases it expects to be filed in September against a headscarf ban it plans to impose in state high schools. 'Measures taken in universities to prevent certain fundamentalist religious movements from pressuring students who do not practise the religion in question or those belonging to another religion can be justified,' the court ruling said. Bans issued in the name of the separation of church and state could therefore be considered 'necessary in a democratic society', said the court, which is part of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe whose members include Turkey."