Belgian school sacks teacher over burqa

8th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Belgian high school on Tuesday sacked a Muslim maths teacher after she insisted she would continue to wear the burqa while taking classes.

At the start of the academic year authorities at the school in Charleroi, south of Brussels, told the Turkish-born teacher to remove her full-face Islamic veil, which she had been wearing during class for two and a half years.

The teacher refused and took her case to court.

In the first instance the Charleroi tribunal backed the school board, citing the religious "neutrality" of the schools serving Belgium's francophone community.

However in March the appeals court ruled that the school in question came under the jurisdiction of Charleroi, which had not issued rules on the banning of religious insignia.

The Muslim teacher therefore returned to school but the municipality soon afterwards introduced its own ban on the wearing of "all religious or philosophical symbols."

On Tuesday officials at the school, after auditioning the teacher in presence of the mayor, decided to sack her for her continued refusal to leave her burqa at home, according to a statement issued by the town hall.

The debate over the Muslim veil has divided opinion in Belgium.

In May lawmakers voted to ban wearing the burqa in public, paving the way for the first clampdown of its kind in Europe.

The law covers all clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified, including the full-face niqab and burqa.

The text must still be adopted by the upper house Senate before it can come into effect.

© 2010 AFP

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