Turkey expresses concern over Germany’s potential headscarf ban

Turkey has raised concerns about the introduction of a new law in Germany could lead to a ban on the Islamic headscarf, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency said on Saturday.

Germany’s new dress regulation that puts a ban on public officials wearing religious symbols undermining their neutrality while at work.

The law passed by the German Federal Council (Bundesrat) pertains to the appearance of civil servants, containing regulations over the use of tattoos, piercings, beards and body jewellery, as well as religious symbols.

The Turkish foreign ministry criticized the regulation saying that it could jeopardize religious freedom of the country’s Muslim minority.

“With the Act on regulating the appearance of female and male civil servants' passed today by the Federal Council in Germany, the competent ministries and administrations are given the power to restrict the appearance of civil servants evoking their religious beliefs or world views, " Anadolu cited Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgiç as saying.

Bilgiç said the legislation was prepared in a hurry, without opinions of non-governmental organizations and proper public discussion, provoking justified reactions, Anadolu Agency reported.

"It is extremely important that this regulation is implemented without harming the freedom of belief of our citizens and the Muslim community living in Germany and that it does in no way lead to a headscarf ban," he added.

Meanwhile, Islamic associations in Germany criticized the law saying a headscarf ban might ensue, German broadcaster ZDF said on Friday.

"That is the wrong signal to the many Muslims in our country," said the Muslim Coordination Council, which introduced an online petition calling for the law to be withdrawn.

However, the Federal Ministry of the Interior made it clear that there can be bans on religious clothing only in exceptional cases, ZDF said.

"Of course, public officials could continue to wear religious symbols and clothing. This can only be forbidden "in a few exceptional cases,” a spokeswoman of the interior ministry added.

The law states that the wearing of religious items can be restricted or prohibited "if they are objectively capable of impairing trust in the civil servant's neutral conduct of office", ZDF added.