Teacher in Belgium wins right to wear veil in class

15th March 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Muslim mathematics teacher in a municipal school in Belgium won her legal battle to wear a veil in class on Thursday when an appeals court overturned a lower court decision.

BRUSSELS - The teacher, whose identity was not given in Belgian news reports, had been banned by school officials last September from wearing a veil while teaching -- even though she had done so for more than two years.

Her initial attempt to challenge the ban failed when a court in the French-speaking industrial city of Charleroi sided with the school, citing a decree on the "neutrality" of the national francophone school system.

But an appeal court in Mons overturned that ruling, on the grounds that the school in question was funded by Charleroi city hall, rather than by the national system, and that the decree therefore did not apply

"The court recalled that a precise text is needed for a derogation to the principle of freedom of expression, which is something the city of Charleroi had not done," the teacher's lawyer Jean-Claude Derzelle told RTBF radio.

"In so ruling, the court authorised the wearing of religions symbols by teachers -- be it a veil, a kippa or a crucifix -- so long as they do not seek to impose their views," he said.


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