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Catholic school discriminates with headscarf ban

Friday 07 January 2011

A Catholic high school in Volendam is guilty of discrimination on religious grounds for banning a Muslim pupil from wearing a headscarf, the equal opportunities commission said on Friday.

The girl started wearing a headscarf this school year and was banned from attending lessons, prompting her father to make a complaint.

The commission said school pupils should, in principle, be free to wear a headscarf, Jewish skullcap or Christian cross.


Schools can introduce a ban if it is necessary to preserve their special identity, but that was not the case with the Volendam school, the commission said.

At the end of last year, an orthodox Christian primary school in The Hague refused to accept a fill-in teacher because she was wearing an Islamic headscarf.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Shame on the equal opportunities commission for this ruling. A private school should be able to dictate what it students can and can't wear and what religious values it wants to promote. I was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church, but attended Catholic Schools for both my primary and secondary studies. My family, correctly, taught me that when I was at school, I was to abide by the rules and value of the school. If a headscarf is that important to this student, she should attend a school where it is in keeping with school policies.

I wonder how the commission would rule if a student at a Muslim school refused to wear a headscarf because it violated her values.

By Susan | 7 January 2011 2:59 PM

I think they should be allowed to wear a headscarf> However, if the policy of the school is that they can't and that was made clear when they began attending the school, then they must follow the rules or find a school that better fits their beliefs.

By Ron | 7 January 2011 3:19 PM

Muslims can accept charity from non-Muslims, but are forbidden from giving charity to non-Muslims. Why would a Muslim attend a school of infidels anyway?

By John Roosevelt | 7 January 2011 3:32 PM

great news! this is a precedence for all future cases of discrimination here in NL, very very good news indeed. People need to be free (eg: party of freedom) to wear whatever pieces of clothing they feel expresses their beliefs so long as it hurts no one else. this is real freedom.

By Bill | 7 January 2011 3:47 PM

Why is a muslim going to a Catholic school on the first place???

By Paola | 7 January 2011 3:48 PM

Why in hell would a muslim girl want to go to a catholic school. In the mideast she would be prosecuted.

By S | 7 January 2011 5:21 PM

Hmm the Catholic church gone barmy again, what is it with these paople, I see nothing wrong with wearing a headscarf, it is not a Burka after all and does not cover the face so I find the rule totally wrong and glad to see that the commission saw sense here.

By Andy | 7 January 2011 5:22 PM

Another example of PC going to the ridiculous. It's a Catholic school for God's sake.. that means no Muslim head garb, no yarmulkas, no sikh kirpans and no Cosmic muffin church balloons.

By Edward R. | 7 January 2011 5:35 PM

Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted.

The British Government is planning to make it easier to schools to “opt out” from the Local Authorities. Muslim children in state schools feel isolated and confused about who they are. This can cause dissatisfaction and lead them into criminality, and the lack of a true understanding of Islam can ultimately make them more susceptible to the teachings of fundamentalists like Christians during the middle ages and Jews in recent times in Palestine. Fundamentalism is nothing to do with Islam and Muslim; you are either a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

By Iftikhar Ahmad | 7 January 2011 9:48 PM

Would a Catholic child be allowed into an Islamic school without a headscarf and with a crucifix?
If we are to allow religion based schools than we must respect the beliefs that religion holds.
As to it being discrimination thos moaning should remember, whats sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander..

By Debz | 8 January 2011 7:17 AM

So if someone wants to come to school naked or wearing white power symbols that is also no problem? I think it's important to mention that this commission rulings are advisory only, and are not enforceable.I've read many dubious things come from this commission over the past few years.

By Durendal | 8 January 2011 4:46 PM

This is becoming completely ridiculous! The school is a private catholic school, she does not have to go there if she does not want to! If there is any discrimination being shown in this case is that its the Christian Europeans who are being discriminated against and who are losing there countries out of political correctness and who feel like they are foreigners in their own homes! Multiculturalism is DEAD! It is time to make Europe European again!

By Enough | 9 January 2011 12:33 AM

I have no information about this school, but where I live, we have exactly 2 choices of schools, and both are christian. Maybe the kids parents had not reasonable choice in the mater, and due to state funding of religious schools, in many places there are no "religiously neutral" schools.

By Quest | 9 January 2011 6:42 AM

@Iftikhar Ahmad: I agree with you that secular (public,state-run or Local Authorities) schools leave much to be desired when it comes to teaching values and morals.

You said: "like Christians during the middle ages."

Firstly, why are you still whining about the Middle Ages? You and I weren't around then!

Secondly, the last half of your 2nd paragraph does not speak a great deal to "tolerance and respect"! Why are you so worried that "lack of a true understanding of Islam can ultimately make them [children, Muslims] more susceptible to the teachings of fundamentalists like Christians."?

Why not let people think for themselves?

Lastly, what is a fundamentalist to you?

By KenM | 9 January 2011 6:43 AM

And has anybody asked the little girl how she feels about this? I see her father was the one who kicked up a fuss. I wonder how her school friends will make her feel after all of this?
How cruel to send a child to a school where they are the only one who is different, and force the child to become a public figure in the father's fight of what is right or wrong in HIS mind. It is father here who should be before the judge, for unnecessary harm to a child and possible psychological damage.
(Even though the names are not published, the citizens and their children that attend this school know exactly who this is.)

By Shanta | 9 January 2011 8:50 AM

I think, what is important is to be respected by each other that is how this world can be lived together so, pointing a finger to each other is not the solution... i hope we do so..

By haji | 9 January 2011 9:57 AM

A friend of mine is muslim and she has her sons in a catholic school because the muslim schools do not teach in dutch. She wants her children educated in the dutch language.

By LJK | 9 January 2011 6:13 PM

The catholic school is a private school, and to my way of thinking can set its own dress code. I assume they have to wear uniforms? If so, then they have every right to ban anything that is not consistent with their dress code. If it were a public school, then I would agree that she has every right to practice her freedom of religion. But not in this case.

By Carolyn | 10 January 2011 8:18 AM

Carolyn: so by your reasoning a private white school should be allowed be allowed to refuse black students? this type of privatization I am really against - privatized racism, cooked up at home, at school, at church and in the backyard. this is what the entire civil rights movement in the mid 60's in the US was based on. additionally your allowance assures even more division of rich and poor folks, only rich people can afford to place their white kid in a white school, right? sorry I do not agree with your comment.

By Bill | 10 January 2011 1:28 PM

In Derby (England) a charity was set up to look after old people of Afro Caribbean ancestry. Whilst it was nominally private, in fact it relied on the state benefits paid to its residents and also applied to the City Council for extra funding. It was part of its policy that staff should be Afro-Caribbean "so that the residents should not feel confused"
If a native English charity set up a home with a similar policy of recruiting only white native staff, the managers would have been prosecuted under all sorts of "equal rights" legislation. As Orwell wrote in "Animal Farm" "Some animals are more equal than others".

By Edward | 10 January 2011 6:16 PM

I agree, Bill. I wanted to say something similar, but you've said it very nicely.

By Milk container | 10 January 2011 6:41 PM

It all seems a run up to re introduce apartheid to Dutch society.As someone else commented would it be acceptable for A whites only school in the Netherlands?Probably not even though the participle is exactly the same.

By Jason Buttle | 10 January 2011 6:53 PM

@ bill, i did not read the same thing from carolyn's comment; this is a private 'religious' school, not a private 'white' school. it's nothing like the US civil rights movement which applied to public schools. there is clearly no discrimination on race in play here, it's a separation of religion only, as it should be. as for the division of the rich and the poor, what's wrong with that? if i get the education, do the work, and make more money, good for me. i support the need for some assistance programs but i shouldn't have to support those who don't work for it.

By shanfla | 11 January 2011 10:36 AM

Bill: Carolyn was clearly talking solely about dress codes. To jump to "White" vs. "Black", "Civil Rights", "rich and poor folks".... think you may have failed to first read to understand what she was saying, or are analogies with 'Hitler' next out of your mouth. Geez.....

By DH | 11 January 2011 1:35 PM

@ Shanfla :"as for the division of the rich and the poor, what's wrong with that? [...]those who don't work for it."......
Yes, it's well known, only lazy people are poor, and all the poor are lazy,...
I so agree with you, poor people should be discriminated, when you think that they can marry, reproduce, vote .... and even take the bus!!!! What a crazy world we're living in!!!!

By jules c | 11 January 2011 4:30 PM

I was always fascinated by the women in Christian icons ... Mary always has here head scarf on. And of course, in Corinthians it says "every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered." I think even for the majority of the twentieth century, Catholic women were obliged to cover their heads in Church. And for Protestants, Martin Luther's wife thought it obligatory to cover her head.

By lawrence | 13 February 2011 10:59 AM

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