Home > Public space > Germany > 2009-05-20 - High Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia, n. 19 E (...)

2009-05-20 - High Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia, n. 19 E 1161/08

Public space · Germany · Dress code · School

Strict obedience to the Quran cannot justify an exemption from swimming-lessons

Key facts of the case - The parents of a Muslim girl in elementary school contended for their daughter to be excused from co-educative swimming-lessons.

Main reasoning of the court - The § 43 II of the school Act of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia regulates the exemptions from class. Pursuant to § 43 II students can be excused for important reasons. According to the Court, the fact that the parents raise their daughter in accordance with strict Muslim rules and that they want to prevent her from sexual seductions already before puberty, is not an important reason in the sense of § 43 II. An important reason is only given when the conflict between the educational mandate of the State (Art. 7 I GG - Basic Law) and the parents’ right to educate their children religiously (Art. 6 II, 4 I,II GG) cannot be solved.
The Court reasoned that the girl could participate in the swimming lesson by wearing a so-called burqini, a swimsuit that covers everything except hands, feet and face. Should there be any insulting remarks from other students, it is the obligation of the teacher to stop that and to pedagogically interact with all students. With a burqini, religious rules concerning the dress code are not infringed. The Court found that co-educative swimming lessons are an integral part of the education and that therefore, the girl has to participate.