‘I felt neglected in my training’: Muslim lawyer wins major case

by L&D06 Jul 2016
Aqilah Sandhu has just won a major case against the state of Bavaria, however she was very well-known in the legal industry before that achievement.

Sandhu was a top student at Augsburg University law faculty in Germany and started a traineeship with the Bavarian judicial system after completing her state law exams.

However, her dreams suffered a major blow when a letter was sent informing her she wasn’t allowed to interrogate witnesses or appear in courtrooms while wearing a headscarf.

“As soon as I saw the letter I knew it was unlawful,” the 25-year-old Muslim told the court.

After she requested an explanation, Sandhu was told that religious clothing or symbols can “impair the trust in religious neutrality of the administration of justice”.

“I felt very strongly discriminated against. I felt neglected in my training,” she was quoted as saying by The Local.

Sandhu also claimed that she was not allowed to participate in some activities at her traineeship as a result of her headscarf.

At one point, the judge who was training her would only allow her to see pictures from a court process after the process was complete. Otherwise, she would have had to step up to the judges' desk which she was not permitted to enter.

“I believe in the principle of merit here in Germany, and I think it is a shame that I am being reduced to my outward appearance,” she said.

Judge Bernhard Röthinger sided with Sandhu and ruled that there was no legal basis for banning her from wearing religious clothing at work.

Sandhu is also reportedly seeking 2,000 euros in compensation.

However, the Bavarian state has said it will appeal the court’s decision.

“I don’t want legal apprentices sitting in court or carrying out other high duties of the state wearing headscarves,” said Bavarian justice minister Winfried Bausback.

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