Developments in German Case Law Regarding the Freedom of Religion

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  • 1 Dr. jur., Attorney-at-Law, Leipzig.

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  • 1 In contrast, the term 'old' or 'traditional' minorities encompasses minorities who have long-last- ing ties with the territory and usually have citizenship of the state in which they live, see Rainer Hofmann "Review of the Monitoring Process of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities", EYMI (2001/2), 435-60, at 447. Germany made a declaration that the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities applies only to Danes, Sorbians, Frisians, and Sinti and Roma of German citizenship. 2 See Janbernd Oebbecke, "Islamisches Schlachten und Tierschutz", 21 Neue Zeitschrift fir Ver- waltungsrecht (NVwZ) (2002), 302-3, at 302.

  • 3 Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), BVerfG 55 NeueJuristische Wochenschrift (NJW) (2002), 663-6. 4 Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht), 99 BVerwG (Entscheidungssammlung des Bundesveraltungsgerichts = Official collection of judgments and decisions rendered by the Fed- eral Administrative Court) (1996), 1-9. The case was also subject to a constitutional complaint and is reported under B. 5 Ibid., 4 et seq. 6 Ibid., 9.

  • 7 BVerfG 55 NJW (2002), 663-6. 8 Art. 2(1) reads: "Everyone has the right to freely develop his personality as far as he does not violate the rights of others or the constitutional order or morality." 9 Art. 12(1) reads: All Germans have the right to freely choose their occupation, their place of work, and their place of professional training. The exercise of one's profession can be regulated by or pursuant to statute." 10 BVerfG 55 NJW (2002), 663. Art. 4(1) and (2) read: "(1) Freedom of belief, of conscience, and freedom to profess a religious or non-religious confession are inviolable. (2) The undisturbed practice of religion is guaranteed." 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid., 664. 14 99 BVerwG (1996),1, 8.

  • 15 BVerfG 55 NJW (2002), 663-6, at 664. 16 Ibid., at 665. 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid., at 665-6. 19 Ibid., at. 666. 20 Ibid. 21 99 BVerwGE (1996),1-9. 22 BVerfG 55 NJW (2002),1485.

  • 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. 25 All shareholders of the company were Turkish citizens. 26 BVerfG 55 NJW (2002),1485. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid.

  • 29 The issue is discussed by Katharina Pabel, "Der Grundrechtsschutz fiir das Schachten: Die Entscheidungen der Verfassungsgerichte in Deutschland und Osterreich sowie des EGMR in rechtsvergleichender Perspektive", 29(9-12) EuGRZ (2002), 220-34, at 225-34. 30 B VerfG 55 NJW (2002), 663, critically discussed by Pabel, ibid., at 231. 31 BVerfG 55 NJW (2002),1485. 32 BVerfG 56 NJW (2003), 2815-6. 33 BAG 56 NJW (2003), 1685-8.

  • 34 Ibid., 1686. 35 Ibid.,1686-7. 36 Ibid., 1687. 37 Ibid. 38 Ibid. 39 Ibid. 40 BVerfG 56 NJW (2003), 2815-6. 41 Ibid., 2815. 42 Ibid., 2816. 43 Ibid.

  • 44 Ibid. It is important to note that the basic rights in the Basic Law do not apply directly in the private sphere of the citizenry. However, they lay down an objective value system, which influ- ences the sector of private law. Therefore, indefinite legal terms have to be interpreted in the light of the objective value system set up by the basic freedoms. 45 Ibid., para. 21. 46 Gregor Thiissing, "Vom Kopftuch als Angriff auf die Vertragsfreiheit", 56 NJW (2003), 405-7. 47 Council Directive 2000/78/EC, OJ 2000 L 303,16. 48 Art. 1 Council Directive 2000/78/EC. 49 Consequences deriving from the failure to implement Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, Dir 2000/43, OJ 2000 L 180 are outlined in Frank Selbmann, "The Drafting of a Law against Discrimination on the Grounds of Racial or Ethnic Origin in Germany: Con- straints in Constitutional an European Community Law" 2 EYMI (2002/3), 675-689, at 688-9, for both directives see also Gregor Trussing, "Richtlinienkonforme Auslegung und unmittelbare Geltung von EG-Richtlinen im Anti-Diskriminierungsrecht", 56 NJW (2003), 3441-5. 50 Ibid., 3442; regarding Directive 2000/43 see also Selbmann, "The Drafting of a Law against Discrimination ...", 689. 51 See the detailed analysis byThussing, "Richtlinienkonforme Auslegung ...",3442-4 and id. "Vom Kopftuch als Angriff ...", 406.

  • 52 See also id. "Vom Kopftuch als Angriff ...", 406 who comes to the same conclusion. The oppo- site view is presented by Marcel Grobys, "Kampf der Kulturen?- NJW Editorial", 56(23) NJW (2003). 53 BVerfG 56 NJW (2003), 3111-22. The Ludin case is not the only legal dispute in this issue. The Higher Administrative Court Luneburg dismissed a lawsuit in a similar case, OVG Luneburg, 15 NYwZ-Rechtsprechungsreport (2002), 658-62. 54 VG Stuttgart, 19 NVwZ (2000), 959-61. 55 VGH Mannheim, 54 NJW (2001), 2899-905. 56 BVerwG, 58 Juristenzeitung (JZ) (2003), 254-6. The judgment of the FAC is critically discussed in Lothar Michael "Anmerkung"58 JZ (2003), 256-8 and Georg Neureither "Kopftuch - BVerwG NJW 2002,3344", 43juristiscbe Scbulung (/uS) (2003), 541-4. See also Matthias Mahlmann, "Reli- gious Tolerance, Pluralist Society and the Neutrality of the State: The Federal Constitutional Court's Decision in the Headscarf Case", 4(11) German LawJournal (2003),1099-116, at 1101-3. 57 Right to Human Dignity. 58 Art. 33(2) and (3) reads: "(2) Every German is equally eligible for any public office according to his aptitude, qualifications, and professional achievements. (3) Enjoyment of civil and political rights, eligibility for public office and rights acquired in the public service are independent of religious denomination. No one shall suffer any disadvantage by reason of his adherence or non-adherence to a denomination or to a philosophical persua- sion."

  • 59 BVerfG 56 NJW (2003), 3111. 60 Ibid. 61 Section 11(1). 62 BVerfG 56 NJW (2003), 3111.The basic rights of public servants are limited by Art. 33(5) of the Basic Law according to which public service law is to be regulated under consideration of the traditional principles of the professional public service, ibid. 63 Ibid., at 3112. 64 Ibid. 65 Ibid 66 Ibid.

  • 67 Ibid. 68 Ibid., at 3113. This is one of the major flaws of the judgment, see Ute Sackofsky, "Die Kopftuch- Entscheidung - von der religiosen zur forderalen Vielfalt", 56 NJW (2003), 3297-301, at 3298. 69 The legislative competence regarding the school system falls within the competency of the Lander. 70 Ibid., 3113. 71 Ibid,3114. 72 Ibid., 3115. 73 Ibid, 3115-6. 74 Ibid., 3116. According to the so-called Wesentlichkeitstheorie essential issues have to be regulated by a legislative act adopted by the parliament. Essential issues are namely matters regarding the exercise of basic freedoms, see the detailed explanation given by Mahlmann, "Religious Toler- ance ...",1105.

  • 75 BVerfG 56 NJW (2003), 3117-22. 76 According to an expert opinion given at the hearing of the case, women may wear headscarves to preserve their identity or to show respect for the tradition of their parents.The majority of judges came to the conclusion that the headscarf should not be seen necessarily as sign of oppression of women. Young women might also choose to wear headscarves to live a self-determined life without breaking with traditions, ibid., 3114. 77 Ibid., 3120 78 Ibid., 3121-2. 79 Ibid, 3117. 80 Ibid. 81 Ibid., 3118. 82 Ibid 83 See ibid. 84 Ibid., 3119. 85 Ibid., 3120.

  • 86 Unfortunately some authors use Samuel P Huntington's phrase of "clash of civilizations" in this context, see e.g. Michael Bertrams, "Lehrerin mit Kopftuch? Islamismus und Menschenbild des Grundgesetzes", 118 Deutscbes Verwaltungsblatt (2003), 1225-34, at 1232. 87 German society is divided on this question. Opponents of headscarves in public schools can be found in all political factions, see Mahlmann, "Religious Tolerance ...", at 1109. The feminist activist Alice Schwarzer pointed out that the headscarf is a sign of separation and a symbol of militant Islamism, see Alice Schwarzer, "Die Machtprobe", DER SPIEGEL ((26) 23 June 2003), 88-90, at 90. The Vice President of the Federal Parliament (Bundestag), Antje Vollmer, came to the same conclusion. Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroder supported the ban of teachers with headscarves from state schools. On the other hand, Federal President Johannes Rau warned, all religions should be treated equally. Because of this statement, conservative politicians, including the Ministerprdsident of Bavaria, Edmond Stoiber, criticized him. 88 Jeanne Rubner, "Kultusminister weiter uneins uber Kopftuchverbot", Suddeutscbe Zeitung (11 October 2003), 6. 89 Landtag von Baden-Wurttemberg, Gesetzesentwurf der Landesregierung, Ds.13/2793 (14 Janu- ary 2004). 90 Gesetz zur Anderung des Schulgesetzes, Gesetzblatt fur Baden-Wurttemberg 2004,178 (8 April 2004). 91 Section 38, paragraph 2 of the School Act. 92 See Pressemitteilung Nr. 38/2004, BVerwG 2 C 45.03 (24 June 2004). As of writing the reasons for the decision were not yet published.

  • 93 Niedersachsischer Landtag, Gesetzesentwurf, Gesetz zur Anderung des Niedersachsischen Schulgesetzes und des Niedersachsischen Besoldungsgesetzes, Drucksache 15/720 (13 January 2004). 94 Niedersachsischer Landtag, Beschlussempfehlung, Drucksache 15/970 (21 April 2004). 95 Section 51 para. 3 of the School Act, published in Niedersachsisches Gesetz- und Verordnungs- blatt, 2004,140 (10 May 2004). 96 The findings in the FCC's Ludin judgment apply only to schoolteachers. According to Susanne Baer, Michael Wrase, "Staatliche Neutralitat und Toleranz: Das Kopftuch-Urteil des BVerfG - BVerfG NJW 2003, 3111", 43 JuS (2003),1162-6, at 1166 due to the principle of strict neutral- ity according to Art. 20(3) and 97 of the Basic Law it would be not acceptable if police officers, public prosecutors or judges wore headscarves. Here additional laws are not required. 97 See also Sackofsky, "Die Kopftuch-Entscheidung ...", 3299. 98 This might be the reason behind the judgment, see Helmut Kerscher, "Ex-Richter verteidigt Kopftuch-Urteil", Suddeutsche Zeitung (11 October 2003), 6, quoting Bertold Sommer one of the judges of the majority who said that the debate is now where it belongs, in the parliaments and in society. 99 A draft law, which takes also into account the basic freedoms of the parents and pupils, is out- lined in Georg Neureither, "Ein neutrales Gesetz in einem neutralen Staat", 36 Zeitschrift fur Rechtspolitik (2003), 465-8, at 468. Neureither takes the view that also Linder who admit religious

  • symbols have to adopt a law. According to Neureither moderate symbols should be allowed unless pupils, parents, or other teachers raise complaints. In this case the head teacher of the school has to come to an agreement with all parties. If an agreement cannot be reached, s/he has to make a decision taking into account the values protected by the constitution. 100 ECtHR, Appl. 42393/98, Dahlab v. Switzerland, decision on the admissibility,15 February 2001; BVerfG 56 NJW (2003), 3111, at 3116. In Germany the ECHR does not have the rank of consti- tutional law. But the FCC interprets the basic rights laid down in the Basic Law in the light of the ECHR. 101 Ibid 102 ECtHR, Appl. 44774/98, Sahin v. Turkey, decision on the admissibility, 29 June 2004. 103 Ibid., para. 71. 104 Ibid, para. 84.

  • 105 Ibid., para. 97 et seq. 106 Ibid., para. 99. Ibid., para.102. 108 Art. 2(5) of Directive 2000/78/EC, see Mahlmann, "Religious Tolerance ...", at 1113. 109 BVerfG 56 NJW (2003), 3111, at 3113. 110 See ibid., at 3114. 111 See also Sackofski, "Die Kopftuch-Entscheidung...", 3300-1. 112 See Judgment of the Federal Administrative Court, BVerwG 13 NVwZ (1994), 578-81.

  • 113 3 OVG Miinster 56 NJW (2003),1754-5. 114 Ibid. The surprising result of the Higher Administrative Court is critically analyzed by Stephan Rixen,"Krankheit oder Glaubensfreiheit?", 56 NJW (2003),1712-5, who comes to the convincing conclusion that the decision should have been made by weighing the freedom of religion accord- ing to Art. 4(1) and (2) of the Basic Law against the principle of supervision of the entire school system according to Art. 7(1) of the Basic Law. 115 Sackofsky, "Die Kopftuch-Entscheidung ...°, 3222. 116 VG Hamburg, 15 VG 5827/2003 (12 January 2004), not yet published. 117 Although the FCC judgments also raised criticism, it seems that the decisions were seen as an important step towards a multicultural society and as a signal against the so-called 'clash of civi-

  • lizations', see explicitly Alexander Hanebeck, "The Constitutional Court's 'Traditional Slaughter' Decision: The Muslims' Freedom of Faith and Germany's Freedom of Conscience", 3(2) German Law Journal (01 February 2002), at http://www.germanlawjournal.com/article.php?id=128, para. 1 et seq.

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