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German court rules Muslim woman can't wear face veil in class

A woman walks past a row of portable toilets at a shelter for migrants inside a hangar of the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin, Germany, December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/Files

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German court ruled on Monday that a Muslim woman could not wear a niqab to evening school, fuelling a debate about the face veil after conservatives pressed the government to ban women from wearing it in schools, at courts and while driving.

The woman had complained on Friday to the administrative court in the northeastern city of Osnabrueck after a school overturned its decision to give her a place because she felt obliged to wear the niqab - which covers the hair and face except for the eyes - for religious reasons.

The Sophie Scholl evening school in Osnabrueck had informed the woman back in April that she had been accepted to a course.

She had said she would be prepared to show a female employee her face before classes started so that she could be identified but then wanted to wear the garment during lessons. The school did not think it was in a position to teach the woman given these circumstances, according to a statement from the court.

The Sophie Scholl school declined to comment on the case when contacted by Reuters.

The woman had been due to appear in court on Monday but did not turn up for the hearing, after widespread media attention to the case. The court then rejected her application.

The conservative calls to introduce a partial ban on the face veil comes at a time when many Germans are on edge after two Islamist attacks. Many are also concerned about the influx last year of more than a million, mainly Muslim, migrants.

Reporting by Michelle Martin, editing by Larry King