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2000-03-23 - High Administrative Court of München (order), n. 24 CS 00.12

Public space · Germany · Dress code · Headscarf

Picture without headscarf on identity papers

Key facts of the case - An Iranian woman was seeking asylum in Germany. This was refused and she had to return to Iran. For this, she needed a valid Iranian passport. Iranian identity papers for women require a picture with covered head. The claimant refused the German authorities’ order to take such a picture and claimed that her religious freedom of Art. 4 GG (basic law) was violated.

Main reasoning of the court - The Court reasoned that in this case, the obligation to wear a headscarf for identity papers is not exclusively a religious but a cultural obligation. The Court further held that wearing a headscarf in Iran is compulsory to every woman, regardless of her religion. Therefore, the Iranian dress code is primarily regulatory law and not religious. The claimant cannot invoke Art. 4 GG against the order to take a picture without headscarf for her identity papers.

Comment - The religious freedom granted in Art. 4 GG protects both the freedom to be religious and the freedom not to be religious.