For a crime taken to court – and the prosecutor wearing a headscarf? Suspected criminals, whether atheist, Jew or Christian, must now prepare themselves for this in Berlin. What was previously considered impossible, because the state is obliged to neutrality, is to come true in Berlin.
Responsible for this: Senator of Justice Dirk Behrendt (Greens). He causes thereby an éclat in the Red-Red-Green coalition. Wednesday, early evening in the Legal Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, incredulous amazement from the Social Democrats and the Opposition: Behrendt commented on the latest decision of the Federal Labor Court in Erfurt on the Berlin Neutrality Law.
A Muslim woman was awarded 5,129 euros in compensation for discrimination because she was not hired into the teaching profession in the state of Berlin because of her headscarf.
The Erfurt judges criticized: If a prospective teacher is rejected because of a headscarf according to the Berlin law, it must be justified more clearly, why the headscarf disturbs the school peace – an individual case decision.Senator for Schools Sandra Scheeres does not rule out filing a constitutional complaint against the latest ruling of the Federal Labor Court. She said this during question time in the Berlin House of Representatives on Thursday. “It is important to me that we have a neutral situation in the Berlin schools so that no conflicts are carried into the schools. We must do everything possible to ensure that we have a peaceful environment for the students,” said Scheeres. As soon as the verdict is available in writing, the next steps will be considered.She was “not satisfied” with the verdict. It was about a ban on religious signs as a whole, not just the headscarf. Scheeres emphasized that this was important in order to maintain peace at school. “If there are conflicts with a teacher, this has an impact on the pedagogical work of the entire college. I receive daily letters from teachers and school administrators that we should stick to this line.
Justice senator Behrendt draws completely different conclusions in contrast to Scheeres – although the Federal judges did not explain the law itself explicitly for unconstitutional. And although the neutrality act continues to apply in the state of Berlin.
In the future, female legal trainees of Muslim faith will be allowed to read the bill of indictment in court wearing a headscarf. This was announced by Justice Senator Behrendt in the Legal Affairs Committee. The only restriction: In addition to the woman wearing the headscarf as prosecutor, the respective instructor is also to sit.And it must be clear to everyone in the courtroom: The prosecutor with head scarf is in training and is accompanied by a training public prosecutor, as Behrendt said. And in the same way also the representatives of Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats interpreted him.In the left-wing coalition, Behrendts decision is seen as arbitrary and as an affront. Social Democratic Party (SPD) legal expert Sven Kohlmeier told the Tagesspiegel newspaper: “Here we as a coalition must find a unified line. Dirk Behrendt’s going it alone is not good”.
Christian Democratic legal expert Sven Rissmann accuses the Senator of Justice of “wanting to create facts”. A headscarf for civil servants, especially in the core area of state power in the judiciary and police, is politically and socially unwanted.
In the Social Democratic Party (SPD) the fear of the consequences of the Behrendt-decision is spreading: Can a public prosecutor be banned from wearing a headscarf in the future if she was already allowed to wear a headscarf during her preparatory service as a prosecutor and as a civil servant on probation?Also the opposition factions of Free Democratic Party (FDP) and AfD say: Behrendt tears down legal and institutional firewalls on his own. In the currently heated debate between the Left and Right, the decision could lead to additional radicalization.The Red, Red and Green government coalition is divided anyway after the decision of the Federal Labor Court. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) insists on the state’s obligation of neutrality – especially in court or with the police. The Social Democrats fear that the political floodgates could open.The Greens, on the other hand, see teachers wearing headscarves as a sign for the future in multicultural Berlin – so that children learn to “deal with diversity and difference”. This includes a “diverse faculty” in the schools. The realities at the schools are intended to create acceptance “in society as a whole”.For the Greens and the Left, the previous neutrality act goes against the grain. After the Erfurt ruling, they are demanding an amendment – because of the goal of anti-discrimination. Also senator of justice Behrendt had criticized the law repeatedly. “In the multi-religious society it must be about what someone has in his head and not on his head,” he twittered.Curiously, while parts of the left and the Greens are celebrating the verdict of the federal labor judges, other parts of the two parties are complaining about the return of religion in the state. Especially since Christianity is losing influence in Berlin. Not even a quarter of the citizens of Berlin belong to one of the two Christian churches. In contrast, Islam is gaining influence.Civil servants in the civil service are required to uphold neutrality in their job – politically and ideologically-religiously. Therefore Behrendts initiative also deals with the question: Should civil servants be allowed to openly display their faith to citizens? Or rather, to put it more bluntly: Is it still possible to place a judge with a headscarf in the courtroom despite the obligation of neutrality? Or a policewoman with a headscarf in employment? So far, this is not allowed.