GeriGündem European court confirms headscarf ban in school no violation to rights
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European court confirms headscarf ban in school no violation to rights

European court confirms headscarf ban in school no violation to rights
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the expulsion of two female students from a French school for refusing to remove their headscarves does not violate their basic rights. The Court cited its rulings in the Leyla Sahin vs Turkey and the Welfare Party vs Turkey cases. (UPDATED)

Two Turkish girls were expelled from school in France after refusing to remove their headscarves to participate in their gym lesson.


The girls had responded to the expulsion decision by applying to a Strasbourg-based court claiming their rights have been violated.


In the Sahin case, the court handed down a similar decision saying the headscarf ban at universities did not violate basic human rights, while in the Welfare Party case ruling, it said states could take measures, including political party closures, to protect democracy and secularism


"The court also reiterates that the state may limit the freedom to manifest a religion, for example by wearing an Islamic headscarf, if the exercise of that freedom clashes with the aim of protecting the rights and freedoms of others, public order and public safety," the ECHR said in its ruling in the case of Dogru vs France.


The applicant, Belgin Dogru, a Muslim aged eleven at the time of the incident, wore a headscarf to school. On several occasions, Dogru attended her physical education and sports classes wearing a headscarf and refused repeated requests by her teacher to teacher to remove it because it was said to be incompatible with the physical education lesson. 


Dogru was expelled from school for breaching the duty of assiduity by failing to participate actively in physical education and sports classes.


She later applied to the ECHR alleging the expulsion violated her right to religious freedom as well as her right to an education as guaranteed by Article 9 of the Convention and Article 2 of Protocol No. 1. 


"In the case of Leyla Sahin, after analysing the Turkish context, the Court found that the Republic had been founded on the principle that the State should be secular, which had acquired constitutional value; that the constitutional system attached prime importance to the protection of women’s rights; that the majority of the population of the country were Muslims; and that for those who favoured secularism the Islamic headscarf had become the symbol of a political Islam exercising a growing influence," the court said.


It thus held that secularism was undoubtedly one of the fundamental principles of the State which were in harmony with the rule of law and respect for human rights and democracy, the ruling added.


The Court noted in France, as in Turkey or Switzerland, secularism is a constitutional principle, and a founding principle of the Republic, to which the entire population adheres and the protection of which appears to be of prime importance, in particular in schools.

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