Belgium's highest administrative court has overturned the sacking of a Muslim woman teacher by two schools because she wore a headscarf, national press reported today. The State Council found that the two schools had abused their powers by firing the woman, who wore the headscarf in the school grounds but not in the classroom, reported the dailies De Standaard and Het Laatste Nieuws. The woman was teaching Islam temporarily at two suburban Dutch-language schools in the capital Brussels in 2005 and 2006, but she refused to take off her headscarf after the schools' management asked her to do so.
The tribunal said the schools had not shown "that wearing the headscarf outside of the classroom would have a negative effect on the way the teacher was doing her work," the newspapers said. The issue has long been a subject of debate in Belgium and the case could serve as a legal precedent. On June 23, a female Belgian politician of Turkish origin was sworn in at the Brussels regional parliament wearing an Islamic headscarf in a first for the country.