Antwerp public schools ban headscarf

24th June 2009, Comments 2 comments

Students in the public schools of Antwerp will no longer be allowed to wear the veil.

Other religious symbols are also going to be banned from the first of September.

Political and religious symbols will be banned in the public schools of Antwerp from the next school term. According to the school principals religious symbols clash with the principles of equality and the freedom of choice for students.

"We have noticed that certain students have started feeling less comfortable over the past few years," says school principal Karin Heremans. "We have the impression that some students are under social pressure to conform and wear religious symbols."

The decision to ban religious symbols from the public schools has drawn criticism from the immigrant community. The public schools have many students of different ethnic backgrounds. "This is an emotional decision but the students are at the centre of the discussion. It is a decision that is in the interest of the students."

Some schools already had a ban on wearing religious symbols.

Currently, in Antwerp there is no general guideline regarding the ban of religious symbols in schools. The schools may decide autonomously what they deem best. In some of the city schools there is already a ban on wearing veils or any other type of religious symbol.

Christian democrat Mahinur Özdemir is the first MP to wear a veil  while taking the oath.

Mahinur Özdemir of the Francophone Christian democrat party CDH was sworn in as MP in the Brussels Parliament.

2 Comments To This Article

  • Heather Abushehada posted:

    on 3rd February 2013, 00:50:48 - Reply

    This is a new form of oppression. What is funny is that they are using no real basis for the implementation for this new rule. How do they know for sure some students are uncomfortable? Did they do any research or ask anyone or just make it up? More than that, the notion of "my rights trump your rights" is just a joke within itself. When someone chooses to wear hijab it doesn't mean they are Muslim. In fact, many Christians and Jewish girls/women cover with hijab as well. Wearing hijab is the same as Christians wearing crosses or Jewish wearing hijab or even a yam-aka. These items simply show that we practice religion, it doesn't show or say anything else about the individual, nor does it infringe on others' rights either. Freedom to express religion such as wearing hijab does not in any way, shape, or form push religion onto someone else. That is the same as banning a gay person from public school because people were uncomfortable. Which is most likely not true that others are uncomfortable by gay people it is just an example. Time and time again there have been studies to prove that being around gay people does not impact others' lives as they think it would and they can raise children without any difference in the child's upbringing compared to a heterosexual family just as a person wearing hijab is not going to convert people and the person wearing the hijab is not going to force anyone to wear hijab either. We are forbidden to force people to do anything. Just like a gay person isn't going to try to force someone to be gay either. The oppression of women that want to be modest, protect themselves, and wear hijab is the same type of oppression many tried to do to the LGTB community too. Either one isn't right to do. I wonder what those same people that voted for this bill would have done if it was their own family being oppressed like this?
  • lejaskalns posted:

    on 24th June 2009, 14:02:48 - Reply

    Banning headscarves and other religious symbols in schools is a profoundly illiberal move and is also an ill-advised concession to the hard right anti-immigrant and neo-fascist parties.

    Muslim girls and women have every right to wear a headscarf if that is their wish, just as Christians have a right to wear a crucifix and Jews a kippah. The idea that it somehow degrades women to wear a headscarf is questionable at best and a crude anti-religious notion at worst.

    All citizens should be equal before the law, and they should not be coerced to break a tenet of their faith or be forbidden to express it in an outward way, anymore than they should be coerced into that faith in the first place.

    What is taking place under the spurious pretext of enforcing women`s rights is in fact a further step by militant atheists to ridicule, marginalise and ultimately outlaw religious faith.

    A sorry day.