The Headscarf as Threat? A Comparison of German and American Legal Discourses


Robert A. Kahn


In this article I compare how American and German judges conceptualize the harm the headscarf poses to society. My 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 drivers license 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, Germans were more likely to see it as a symbol of political Islam, while Americans saw it a tool used by potential terrorists


Comparative and Foreign Law | Constitutional Law

Date of this Version

August 2006