The mayor of a German town recently fired an intern — originally hired to assist with a refugee-related project — after she wore a headscarf to work.
The Local reported that the unidentified Palestinian woman, 48, was brought on by Luckenwalde Mayor Elisabeth Herzog-von der Heide to assist with a project called “Perspectives for Refugees.” The intern was supposed to work under Herzog-von der Heide for six weeks.
The Luckenwalde town hall reportedly adheres to strict neutrality rules and not even a crucifix was said to have been acceptable decoration.
“The religious headscarf is a means of expressing a religious worldview,” Herzog-von der Heide said on Wednesday according to the news source.
The woman refused to remove her headscarf, stating that she was not comfortable taking it off in the presence of men. Herzog-von der Heide told the intern that they would not be able to offer her a suitable work environment, and the woman was fired.
The mayor later stated that she should have been more up-front with the intern and should have clarified the town hall’s policy.
A German news outlet, Deutsche Welle, relayed that Herzog-von der Heide’s decision was celebrated by German right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AFD).
“If the [Christian] cross is not permitted at the premises of the town hall, then there must be no special treatment for Muslims,” stated an AFD MP, Thomas Jung (via DW). “The mayor, therefore, deserves respect, and not scolding for her uncomfortable decision.”
Sven Petke, a representative from Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party and from the state parliament, disagreed with Herzog-von der Heide’s decision, stating that “There is no legal basis for this decision." Petke maintained that Palestinian woman’s headscarf was different than other religious insignia.
“It is something different than a crucifix on a wall.”
The Washington Post reported that a news conference was organized Aug. 18 to discuss a potential ban on burqas, or full-face veils. Of course, the ban opens up the discussion to banning hijabs and burkinis, with many remaining divided on the subject.