The Headscarf as Threat: A Comparison of German and U.S. Legal Discourses

This Article compares how U.S. and German judges conceptualize the harm the headscarf poses to society. The examples are the 2003 Ludin case, in which the German Federal Constitutional Court held that the civil service, in the absence of state regulation, could not reject a woman from a civil service teaching position solely because she would not remove her headscarf while teaching, and State v. Freeman, in which a Florida court held that a woman could not pose for a driver’s license photograph wearing a garment (the niqab) that covered all of her face except her eyes. While judges and legal critics in both countries tended to see the headscarf as threatening, German society was more likely to see it as a symbol of political Islam, while U.S. society viewed it as a tool used by potential terrorists.

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