A German court has told a Syrian woman that she must take off her headscarf to appear in court for divorce proceedings against her husband.
According to a report in Tagesspiegel, the woman, who arrived in Germany as a refugee, sought a divorce from her husband before a magistrate in Luckenwalde in the state of Brandenburg.
Before the hearing, however, the presiding judge sent a letter to the woman’s lawyer informing her that she would not be allowed wear a headscarf during the court case.
“Religiously motivated statements, such as the wearing of a headscarf, will not be allowed,” the letter reportedly reads.
The letter outlined that the woman, who is Muslim, could face sanctions if she wears the traditional headgear at the proceedings, which she was ordered to attend.
Officials in German courts are required to be religiously neutral and are not allowed to wear religious symbols, however, the same requirement doesn’t apply to civilians. The woman’s lawyer has labelled the decision unconstitutional.
Defence lawyers are also not bound by rules on religious neutrality, and may wear a headscarf or other symbols of religion.
Tagesspiegel notes that in 2006 Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a judge cannot expel a spectator from a court proceeding because they are wearing a headscarf.
The court in Luckenwalde defended the decision, telling Tagesspiegel that the judge “is responsible for ensuring rules are adhered to in the courtroom, where religious symbols have no place.”
Last month the state of Berlin was ordered to pay a Muslim teacher €6,900 after she was rejected from a job because her hijab contravened a German law restricting religious symbols in the workplace.
German courts have held other similar proceedings this year, challenging the workplace neutrality law.