A German court ruled on Wednesday that Muslim girl students must take part in school swimming lessons with boys, in a landmark decision that touches on the controversial relationship between religion (ONLY Islam) and the state.
NBC News (h/t Marina) The decision by Germany’s top court for public and administrative disputes signals that the state’s constitutional obligation to educate children can take precedence over customs and practices linked to an individual’s religious beliefs.
The court said Muslim schoolgirls could not be exempted from swimming lessons, provided they were allowed to wear so-called “burkinis,” full-body swimsuits worn by many Muslim women which leave only the face, hands and feet exposed.
The plaintiff was a Muslim girl, originally from Morocco, who goes to school in the western state of Hesse. Her parents have tried for several years to stop her from joining swimming lessons with boys. She was 11 years old when the case started.
“The plaintiff has not made sufficiently clear that … taking part in co-educational swimming lessons with a burkini breaches Muslim rules on clothing,” said the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, rejecting her appeal. Two courts in Hesse had already rejected her bid to be exempted from swimming lessons.
However, the girl’s lawyer argued that she was embarrassed to see boys wearing nothing but swimming trunks. “The Koran not only forbids being seen by others in light clothing but she herself should not see boys and girls with (swimsuits) on,” Klaus Meissner, her lawyer.