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Muslim students going to the cinema


Summarized: An exemption from going to the cinema is only possible in exceptional cases, even if the film may go against the student's religious beliefs.

Admission to a public school establishes a relationship under public law, from which rights and obligations arise for the students.1 Attendance at lessons and at ’compulsory’ school events is part of the student's duties.2 

To be exempt from a visit to the cinema, certain requirements must be met. A visit to the cinema can affect the religious or ideological beliefs of individual students due to the contents of the film.3 Equally affected here may be the parents’ right of upbringing. The freedom of religion according to Article 4 of the German Basic Law of the pupil and the parental right of upbringing from Article 6 of the same may be violated by the obligation to attend the cinema.4 The state is fundamentally barred from influencing its citizens in a particular ideological, political or religious direction by identifying (intentionally or not) with a particular worldview.5

However, the state carries the responsibility of fulfilling an educational mandate.6 The state's educational mandate, guaranteed by Article 7 of the Basic Law, gives the state the authority to plan, organize and manage the content and didactics of the school system, its training courses and the lessons taught there.7 With the state's educational mandate, the state does not only aim at merely imparting knowledge to young people but would like to educate them to become self-responsible citizens who participate in the democratic processes of a pluralistic society.8

As an example, in 2013 the Federal Administrative Court rejected the plea of a couple who were professing Jehovah's Witnesses.9 In this case, the parents did not want their son to watch a film at the cinema that dealt with so-called black magic.10 In its decision, the court pointed out that merely attending a film screening required only receptive behavior in the form of mere mental intake without any active processing.11 The religious taboo (ban on confrontation), on the other hand, runs counter to the school's mission.12 After all, the state must familiarize the next generation as comprehensively as possible and without reservation with the knowledge of the community and its intellectual and cultural heritage, as reflected in cinematic and literary representations for example.13 Neither the school nor the film would be associating positive values to the so-called black magic. 

As a result, according to case law, exemption from class is only possible in exceptional cases. Again, other reasons that may justifiably prevent participation in class, such as illness, remain untouched from any of the other reasons discussed above. 

see Section 69 (1) of the Hesse School Act as an example. 

 Again see Section 69 (4) 1 of the Hesse School Act. 

Federal Constitutional Court, case from 11.09.2013, 6 C 12.12, margin 13. 

See above.

See above, margin 23.

See above, margins 49, 51.

Federal Administrative Court, case from 11.09.2013, 6 C 25.12, margin 11.

Federal Constitutional Court, decision from 21.12.1977, 1 BVL 1/75, 1 BVR 147/75, margin 99.

Federal Administrative Court, case from 11.09.2013, 6 C 25.12, margin 8. 

10 See above, margin 14.

11 See above, margin 32.

12 See above, margin 34. 

13 See above, margin 27.

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