Muslim law trainee wins case against the state of Bavaria after being banned from wearing a headscarf at work

Judge ruled that there was no legal basis for preventing Aqilah Sandhu from wearing a headscarf at work, but local authorities plan to appeal the decision 

Elsa Vulliamy
Sunday 03 July 2016 18:27
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Aqilah Sidhu speaking to Bild News
Aqilah Sidhu speaking to Bild News

A 25-year-old trainee lawyer took the German state of Bavaria to court, and won, after she was told she could not wear her hijab at work.

Aqilah Sandhu, reported to have been a star student at Augsburg University law faculty, began a traineeship with the Bavarian judicial system after completing her state law exams, but was told in a letter that she was not allowed to interrogate witnesses or appear in courtrooms while wearing her headscarf.

Ms Sanhu requested an explanation for the rule, and was told that religious clothing or symbols “can impair the trust in religious neutrality of the administration of justice”, reports in The Local say.

“I felt very strongly discriminated against. I felt neglected in my training,” she told the court.

She added that she had been excluded from certain activities at her traineeship because of her headscarf.

“I believe in the principle of merit here in Germany, and I think it is a shame that I am being reduced to my outward appearance,” Ms Sandhu said.

Judge Bernhard Röthinger ruled that Ms Sandhu was right, and there was no legal basis for banning her from wearing religious dress at work.

German media reports say Sandhu is now seeking 2,000 euros in compensation.

State Justice Minister Winfried Bausback has said that the regional government will appeal the decision.

He said all participants in legal proceedings must be able to trust in the independence and neutrality of judges and prosecutors, and that there confidence must not be “shaken by appearance”.

Last year, authorities in Berlin reportedly considered not hiring Muslim lawyer Betül Ulusoy for a traineeship because they saw she wore a headscarf when she came to the town hall to sign her contract, after being told her application had been successful.

The town hall eventually ruled that Ms Ulusoy would be accepted onto the traineeship, and permitted to wear religious clothing.

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