German Muslim may not wear burqa while driving


Central Europe


Photo AFP, Tauseef Mustafa

Muslim women are not allowed to cover their faces while driving. That is the ruling of the Administrative Court Neustadt an der Weinstraße.

The judges considered the case of a Muslim woman who had filed a complaint against the authority that issued her driver's licence, Tagesschau reports. The woman had requested to be exempted from the so-called veil ban in traffic. She wished to keep on her niqab, which does not only cover her hair but also her face while driving. The licensing authorities rejected her application, after which the woman took the case to court.

However, the judges ruled in favour of the licensing authority. They pointed out that every driver needs to be recognisable behind the steering wheel. Therefore, face coverings are not allowed, and a niqab covers everything except for the area around the eyes.

The judges do not think the ban violates the German Constitution, as it does not “severely restrict religious freedom.” Instead, the practice of religion is “only restricted in a narrowly limited life situation that is typically not essential for freedom of religion”, the verdict continues.

In addition, the judges deemed legal interests to be more important. They said that if the face of a driver is not identifiable, one can not hold him or her accountable for traffic violations or checks. That would mean that a niqab could be misused to violate the law, the judges said.

The plaintiff has one month to appeal the verdict at the Higher Administrative Court in Koblenz.



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