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Prayer room for Muslims


Summarized: A student may pray at certain places at school which are freely accessible to them. They do not however the right to the establishment of a prayer room. 

A public school doesn’t have a duty to set up a prayer room for students. The right to set up a prayer room doesn’t derive itself from the right to pray at school (see here).1 The constitutional right to practice any religion freely in accordance with Article 4 of the German Constitution is, first and foremost, a defensive law and should protect the individual from state interference.2 It is only exceptionally that fundamental rights also provide benefit rights, in which case it is mostly just a consequence of granting defensive laws.3

Only in the case where a school is allowed to prohibit prayer on its grounds (for example due to any impairments on the school peace) must it be checked beforehand whether a prayer room can be set up as a ‘milder measure’ to avoid a general ban on praying. 

According to the Federal Administrative Court, the affected student can make the claim for a space “for the active exertion of their religious conviction”.4 This could refer to getting access to a space which is actually already available to them for use, such as a remote part of the hallway. The command is particularly important in areas such as in school, where the state needs to take certain measures to ensure that the student is involved during lessons at school and cannot simply leave the school premises.  

Federal Constitutional Court, case from 16.05.1995, BvR 1087/91 margin 35. 

Ipsen in Staatrecht II, Ed. 2017, margin 384. 

Pieroth/Schlink in GrundrechteStaatsrecht, Ed. 2004, margin 60, 62. 

Federal Administrative Court, case from 30.11.2011, C 20.10, margin 24. 

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