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Malaysia high court rules turban ban in schools constitutional

[JURIST] The Malaysian Federal Court [official website] on Wednesday upheld the expulsion of three students who refused to abide by School Regulations 1997, which prohibits the wearing of Islamic turbans at school. The challenge to the religious dress [JURIST news archive] regulation was brought under Article 11(1) of the Malaysian Constitution [text], which reads, "[e]very person has the right to profess and practice his religion and...to propagate it." In a two-prong analysis, Justice Abdul Hamid first considered whether the practice was an integral part of Islam, and then weighed the extent of the prohibition. Hamid found that the wearing of a turban, while a commendable (sunat) Islamic practice, is not a mandatory (wajib) Islamic practice, and that the regulation permitted students to wear turbans during prayer at school, as well as after school. Hamid also noted that the students could attend a different school.

Last week, a German court threw out a ban on women teachers wearing religious headscarves [JURIST report], saying the ban was not neutral as it did not apply to the veils worn by Catholic nuns. Malaysia's Sun Media has local coverage.

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