German cardinal in row over religious symbols in schools

 The controversy over a ban on religious symbols in schools which began in France last year has now spread to Germany. After some German states announced plans to outlaw teachers wearing Muslim headscarves, President Johannes Rau said any ban should be applied equally to all religions. German Cardinal Karl Lehmann criticized the president this week, and insisted he was wrong to compare Islamic veils and headscarves with Christian symbols. Cardinal Lehmann said the Muslim veil was a symbol of discrimination while Christian crosses and religious clothing were without the "slightest trace of political propaganda about them". The row echoes a similar one currently going on in France. The French government plans to outlaw Muslim veils in schools and a number of ostentatious Christian and Jewish symbols, in a bid to underline the country's traditional secular system.

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