Sweden's equality ombudsman on Wednesday ruled it was discriminatory for an adult education establishment to ban a student from wearing a face-covering veil.
The long-awaited ruling stems from a highly-publicized case going back to January 2009, when a female student was told she could not attend a one-year childcare course if she kept wearing a niqab.
"To exclude a student from lessons only because she is wearing a niqab, without taking into consideration the specific conditions for the participation, goes against the Equality Ombudsman's understanding of the discrimination law," ombudsman Katri Linna said in a statement.
During the electoral campaign earlier this year, Liberal Party head and Education Minister Jan Bjoerklund used the case as an example when pleading for regulations to make it easier for the heads of establishments to ban women wearing face-covering veils at their schools.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, of the Moderate Party, said he would not comment on the ombudsman's decision, but referred to Bjoerklund's earlier comments.
"The aim is to signal that we think that teachers, in their teaching roles, should have face-to-face contact with their students," Reinfeldt told the TT news agency.
The student in the case was allowed to finish her program while waiting for the ruling.
"The complainant has finished her education. It is doubtful that she was discriminated in the legal sense," Linna said in a separate statement on her website.
The ombudsman added she decided to not bring the case to court or take action against the city of Stockholm, which administrated the adult education establishment the student attended.
Linna stressed the student had completed her education with good marks, got along well with staff and students and showed her niqab was not a hindrance to following lessons.