Zurich: Muslim father fined after kids fail to attend Christmas concert rehearsal

The Local Switzerland
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Zurich: Muslim father fined after kids fail to attend Christmas concert rehearsal
The Zurich appeals court. Photo: Adrian Michael

A Zurich appeals court has upheld a fine for a Muslim man who chose not to send his three sons to a rehearsal for a Christmas concert.


In its ruling, the court stated that the children’s obligatory attendance at the rehearsal did not contravene freedom of religion and conscience.

With the decision, the court upheld an earlier ruling by Zurich's Dietikon district court.

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The events in question date back to 2016 when the father of three children tried to get permission for his sons to be excused from both a rehearsal for a Christmas concert and from the concert itself.

Both events took place in a church – the rehearsal during school hours and the concert outside of compulsory school hours.

The school decided the children could be excused from the concert, but not from the rehearsal. School directors also said the boys would not have to sing three songs with Christian content during the rehearsal.

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But when the sons did not attend the rehearsal, their father was fined 500 Swiss francs (€440) for failing in his parental duty to ensure his children attended compulsory schooling.

The father then took the matter to court. He argued that, for him, the concert rehearsal and the concert itself were the same thing. He stated he did not want to keep his children away from other religions but that having his children sing Christian songs in a church was too much.

But the Zurich appeals court rejected arguments that making the children attend the concert contravened Swiss constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and conscience, Swiss news agency SDA reported.

The court noted the school’s approach to the matter had been proportionate and considered.

However, the court also noted that the father of the children was not guilty of any systematic failing when it came to carrying out his parental duty to ensure his children attended school.

Instead, this was a one-off situation based on ideological principles, the court said. As a result, the man's fine was reduced to 300 francs.

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