German state plans headscarf ban

A German state has begun moves to ban Muslims from wearing headscarves in schools.

The bill was proposed by the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg following a supreme court ruling in September that allowed a Muslim teacher to wear a headscarf.

The legislation is expected to gain approval from the state parliament early next year.

Civil rights groups say a ban would hamper religious freedom but six other states are planning similar laws.

"The aim of the law is to forbid state teachers from wearing symbols which could be regarded as political," said Erwin Teufel, state premier of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

The region's Education Minister Annette Schavan said the headscarf was "seen as a symbol of cultural division and part of a history of repression of women".

In September's ruling, the federal constitutional court ruled the state could not ban a female Muslim teacher from wearing a headscarf because there was no law against it.

But the court also said German states could ban headscarves in schools if they passed new laws.

The ban will not apply in religious education classes, and Christian and Jewish symbols will not be banned.

Three states - Berlin, Hesse and Saarland - want headscarves banned in all public services.