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  • More Belgian schools ban headscarves

    by Sunny
    7th September, 2005 at 1:24 pm    

    United Press International reports today that two more Belgian schools will ban Muslim students from wearing headscarves when the new school year begins in September.

    Marie Arena, education minister for the French Community, ruled Thursday that both schools can ban any ostentatious religious symbols, Expatica reported.

    “The minister, having checked that these projects don`t breach the rights and liberties in our country, believes educational teams should be trusted,” the minister`s office said in a statement. “It`s they who, on a daily basis and on the ground, are best at acting on the interest of pupils and for the good organization of schools.”

    A lawyer representing parents whose children would be affected by the ban at the two schools said officials had not tried to work with the parents or discuss the issue with them. About 70 percent of Belgium`s French-speaking schools now have similar rules.

    This is not a good development because if Belgium also takes this policy up officially, it might spread to other European countries. It will also affect the Sikh community, who are also fighting the government ban in France.

    Update:Harry’s Place also points out these two recent incidents:
    1) A Moroccan woman living in a small town in Belgium has triggered a national debate on multiculturalism after refusing to obey a municipal injunction to stop wearing a burqa. Story here.
    2) Hostility to the headscarf ban has sort of fizzled out in France a year after it happened. Most have just accepted it and carry on, according to the Times. OR maybe they want to give that impression.

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    Filed in: Current affairs,Religion

    13 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Opinionated Voice :: Politics of Hijab :: September :: 2005

      [...] Once again the Hijab is under the spotlight. Previously, France banned children from wearing the Hijab in Schools. France has now declared the ban as a success, even though many Muslims girls have left France to seek education privately or abroad. Recently, Germany has introduced plans to ban teachers from wearing the Hijab in Schools from August 2006. There have been calls to ban the Hijab in Australia, which have currently been rejected. Now, Belgium is faces a challenge of its school regulations which ban Muslim students from wearing Hijab. [...]

    1. Edward — on 7th September, 2005 at 1:33 pm  

      I have never understood, and no one has ever satisfactorily explained to me, why Local Authorities feel it necessary to ban Mulsims from wearing headscarves.

      It is one thing to ban kids from wearing hooded tops instead of uniforms. But to prevent people from wearing a religious garment or item which augments their uniform seems to me quite wrong.

      It is not, from what I can see, that these items are worn as fashion statements. Nor are they divisive (in intent at least) or subversive.

      They are part of a cultural identity.

      I fail to see how Western Governments can on the one hand seek to assuage the fears of those who believe they are minority cultures, when on the other hand they take disproportionate steps which are entirely lacking in reason or merit.

    2. rizwand — on 7th September, 2005 at 2:30 pm  

      I am not against secularism per se, but this degree of extension seems unjustified. Will it do anything to improve multiculturalism in schools and in other public places?
      I suppose this could be argued both ways. Anyway, where is the evidence that wearing religious clothing has negative effects ?

      But what about outside of schools? Those with religious beliefs will no doubt feel oppressed. This does not cut both ways.

    3. jamal — on 7th September, 2005 at 7:25 pm  

      This is a joke. I am sure that this trend is spreading and will soon hit britain. I recently read that teachers in some schools in germany had been banned from wearing hijabs too. If it is everywhere else they go, then why not in school? Once again, the laws target muslims.

      I am waiting to see what legislation regarding this will be included when the EU constitution is finaiised. I can see a secularist Europe where muslims are cnsidered the outcasts. I recently read an article where muslims in Italy largely consider themselves on the outskirts of society, and they can where what they want. i dont see these laws having any positive effect!

    4. jamal — on 7th September, 2005 at 7:27 pm  

      Just to add. How much input will European Muslims have into the European constitution. If we have little say (as i expect), then there could be difficult times ahead.

      with the current witchhunts and restrictions pertaining to Muslims organisations that speak out, who will speak for us?

    5. Juan Golblado — on 8th September, 2005 at 12:47 pm  

      I would like to see religion treated as any other reason for not going along with the school uniform. If I like to wear a hoodie for reason X and that’s not allowed and if you like to wear a hijab, kippa or turban for reason Y then none of them would be allowed. Or else all of them would be allowed. Nothing special about religion.

    6. jamal — on 9th September, 2005 at 1:27 am  

      juan, that is a very misinformed statement.

      What is “special” about religion, is that the Human Rights Act permits freedon of religion expression.

      This is why it should be allowed, and this is why every cases invloves this act.

    7. Juan Golblado — on 9th September, 2005 at 5:33 pm  

      Your statement, Jamal, is misinformed. The Human Rights Act protects “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. There’s nothing special about religion to make it more deserving of protection than other thoughts or convictions.

      Judicial interpretations like the one obtained by Hizb ut-Tahrir with Cherie Blair’s help have privileged religion, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can change that if we want to and work hard enough at it.

    8. Kulvinder — on 9th September, 2005 at 11:10 pm  

      Sweetie if you gave a valid (in the sense of a deeply held conviction) reason for wearing a hoodie you would be allowed to.

      Have you spoken to the CAB? do you need representation? perhaps your MP should highlight your case.

    9. rkay — on 9th September, 2005 at 11:11 pm  

      Agree with Juan. When religion starts to become a political tool and to forge a communal identity based on external symbols, there is nothing sacred. In that case, it is just like any other organization.

      And on another note. These kids don’t have a say on whether they can or cannot wear these scarves. Their parents decide that for them.

    10. Kulvinder — on 10th September, 2005 at 1:05 pm  

      Agree with Juan. When religion starts to become a political tool and to forge a communal identity based on external symbols, there is nothing sacred. In that case, it is just like any other organization.


      And on another note. These kids don’t have a say on whether they can or cannot wear these scarves. Their parents decide that for them.

      If you suspect child abuse perhaps the social services should be your port of call, not the internet.

    11. Juan Golblado — on 10th September, 2005 at 3:27 pm  

      Good point, rkay.

      Clearly, the religionists wield a mean acronym and know where to get their privilege card stamped, but their popular appeal may be waning.

      The more secular activities that can be made available the better.

    12. Kulvinder — on 10th September, 2005 at 9:16 pm  

      Hey, yeah. What?

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